The owners of Peterborough’s Queensgate have warned of the risk from out-of-town developments if a planned revamp of the shopping centre fails to go ahead.
The alarm has been sounded by Invesco and Lendlease, the owners and asset managers of the Queensgate shopping centre, which are hoping to get the green light for a £30 million cinema-led development.
Our proposed extension is about much more than simply a new cinema.Guy Thomas
The plans will be considered by members of Peterborough City Council’s planning committee on Tuesday.
They will also have to decide on a £100 million cinema-led development for the neighbouring North Westgate site.
It is agreed that two multi-screen cinemas so close together would not be viable. The developers of North Westgate have previously warned their scheme could not go ahead if a cinema is allowed inside Queensgate.
Guy Thomas, head of retail asset management at Lendlease, said: “Our proposed extension is about much more than simply a new cinema.
“The extension will create a better retail offer for the city, help to increase the evening economy and improve connectivity through extended opening hours.
“Our extension is deliverable and ready to go, and we have the support of John Lewis, Next and Odeon.
“If consent is granted, we plan to begin construction in late January next year, with the extension complete by the mid-2017.
But he warned: “If Queensgate is not granted consent, there is a risk progress in the city centre will falter, and other applications may come forward for out-of-town developments which could be a real threat to the city centre’s long-term prosperity.
“As a partner in the city, we believe that is a situation our proposals will prevent.
Mr Thomas added: “We support the redevelopment of North Westgate as both an owner of two large land holdings on the site and in the wider interests of Peterborough city centre, we are firmly of the view that both developments moving forward represents the best outcome for the city.”
Since acquiring the centre 15 months ago, Invesco Real Estate and Lendlease say they have rebranded Queensgate to increase its appeal to consumers, upgraded the carparks, attracted new retailers, and begun refurbishing the centre, including the transformation of Westgate Arcade in August.
They say these improvements have led to a 10 per cent rise in sales at Queensgate and brought more visitors to the city centre.
They also say the planned 77,000 sq ft extension is the next phase of investment, which will play a key role in the city centre’s future prosperity and will create 200 jobs.
A spokesman added: “With the full backing of John Lewis, Next and Odeon, the extension will mean improved links to the city centre and Cathedral Square, create fit-for-purpose stores for Peterborough’s key anchor and other retailers, and allow extended trading hours that will benefit the whole city centre.
“Our position is supported by planning policy, which specifically refers to a cinema being delivered in the city core, including Queensgate.
“Whilst the same policy supports leisure uses generally on North Westgate, it makes no reference to a cinema.”
He said the plans to extend Queensgate had received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the public.
About 400 people visited the public exhibition held in Queensgate in May, with more than 300 questionnaires submitted. Some 98 per cent of people gave their support to the plans and the survey results also highlighted a strong desire for a cinema and new restaurants in Queensgate.