Timetable finally unveiled for the development of Peterborough’s North Westgate

How the regenerated North Westgate should appear - night
How the regenerated North Westgate should appear - night

Ambitious plan to regenerate the North Westgate area of Peterborough are poised to take a long awaited step forward.

A £100 million leisure-led development is proposed for a site bounded by the Queensgate Shopping Centre, Bourges Boulevard, Lincoln Road, Bright Street and Westgate.

How the area around Westgate Church might appear.

How the area around Westgate Church might appear.

Public consultations are to be carried out by the investment company behind the development, Bristol-based Hawksworth Securities, at the end of next month.

It is intended that an outline planning application for the three year project will be submitted to Peterborough City Council by May or June of this year.

It is hoped construction work will get under way early next year and that the development will be completed by 2017/2018.

News that a planning application is about to be submitted has been welcomed by leading politicians.

This development will play a pivotal role in Peterborough’s ongoing regeneration.

Peter Breach, chairman of Hawksworth Securities

The development will feature an eight-screen cinema complex, a new public square around Westgate Church as well as 120 one, two and three-bedroom city apartments, some with rooftop gardens, plus a 100-room hotel.

The development will be pedestrian friendly, creating an appealing outdoor space with external dining areas for cafes, bars and restaurants.

It will also include a food hall, a medium sized supermarket plus parking for 300 cars and 24,000 square feet of office space

It is hoped the project will create 1,500 jobs.

Peter Breach, chairman of Hawksworth Securities, said: “This development will play a pivotal role in Peterborough’s ongoing regeneration.

“The new cinema, hotel, restaurants and bars will bring new jobs and entice more people into Peterborough both in the daytime and evenings.

“The consultation phase for this project is a vital one.

“The development will deliver major benefits to the city, at both an economic and a cultural level, and we want to ensure we are working in harmony with the local community.

“The time is now right to push this project forward and we will be submitting our planning application shortly.”

A spokesman for the firm said talks were going on with an operator for the cinema but operators for the supermarket and hotel had not yet been found.

Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson said: “The Hawksworth plans are great news for the city.

“I’ve been hopeful of progress for many years and was very disappointed that no progress was seemingly being made.

“This will mean new money, new shops, an attractive public realm new jobs and new homes and a modern and welcoming gateway from the station into the city centre. - lets get it agreed by the city council and built as soon as possible.”

Councillor Marco Cereste, Peterborough City Council leader, said: “Hawksworth’s proposals show that this city is a place where people want to invest.

“We’ve made very clear our vision for the city centre to be a leading destination for shopping, leisure, culture, business and entertainment.

“ Hawksworth’s proposals would bring new jobs for the city, and entice more people into the city in the day and evenings.”

Previous plans to regenerate Peterborough’s North Westgate have involved the demolition of the much loved pub and micro-brewery, the Brewery Tap.

Indeed, so outraged were city people eight years ago, that a campaign to save the pub from demolition was launched.

But the new developers have moved to ensure that the Brewery Tap will survive and be a main feature of the new venture.

Paul Hook, owner of Oaka, the company behind the Brewery Tap, said: “Now that the Brewery Tap’s future is secure, we are excited about the North Westgate development.

He said: “This area has huge potential and the plans look set to make it a really appealing destination.

“We look forward to seeing it taking shape.”

However the new scheme will involve the demolition of about 10 to 15 houses in Cromwell Road as well as a nearby office.

A spokesman for the developers said that talks were ongoing with land owners in the area.

He said it was hoped that the city council would not need to use compulsory purchase orders to ensure the development can go ahead.

He said: “It seems most if not all the homes are rented - we have been in touch with the landowners.

The Edwardian NACRO building will be retained but a book shop and community rooms near Westgate Church will de demolished.

Earlier plans to develop North Westgate have included the owners of the Queensgate Shopping Centre.

But the spokesman said the centre’s new owners, Invesco, were not involved in the current proposals.

Timeline:

The redevelopment of North Westgate has been a topic of debate among planners since 1992.

Ten years later the area was included in Peterborough City Council’s masterplan for the regeneration of the city.

There were several expressions of interest.

One, in 2003, was from Hawksworth but it failed to secure preferred status with the council. It featured 500,000 sq metres of retail space and 100 homes and a Debenhams.

In 2004 the joint owners of Queensgate Shopping Centre, Hammerson and and Morley Fund Management, began a public consultation on a 646,000 sq ft development.

The expected cost was £300 million. It included making Westgate Church the main feature, with an open square providing retail, leisure and catering accomodation. In 2007 Marks and Spencer was confirmed as the anchor retailer for the development.

Boxes full of plans and documents were ceremoniously presented to council officials.

However, the credit crunch swiftly followed and nothing more was heard of the venture until Hawksworth revived its plans last year.