The firm behind Peterborough’s proposed North Westgate development has today (Thursday) submitted a formal objection to the planned cinema-led revamp of the Queensgate shopping centre.
Hawksworth Securities has sent a nine page letter of objection to Peterborough City Council urging councillors not to approve the scheme which would allow a multi-screen cinema to be created inside Queensgate.
There is no other proposal to regenerate North Westgate on the horizon - it needs a cinema for it to happen.Peter Breach, chairman
The £100 million regeneration of North Westgate by Hawksworth is also anchored by a multi-screen cinema.
News of the objection comes as Hawksworth has also revealed that The Light, which runs cinemas in Cambridge and Wisbech, has agreed to manage the North Westgate cinema.
But Hawksworth chairman Peter Breach says if councillors approve the cinema-led venture at Queensgate they will scupper the regeneration of North Westgate.
His letter of objection states that the regeneration of North Westgate, which covers an area from Bourges Boulevard across to Lincoln Road, and from Bright Street on the north side to Westgate at the south, is a priority in the council’s development plan for the city.
He points out that the council’s plan states that nothing should be permitted which would be detrimental to the success of the regeneration of North Westgate.
The matter is set to come to a head later this month when the council’s planning committee is expected to consider both proposals.
Mr Breach said: ““The current North Westgate proposals represent a vital chance to regenerate a long-neglected area of the city centre and to create jobs, places to live, community facilities and a new leisure quarter.
“These plans centre commercially on the cinema. This drives visitor numbers to the food and leisure offer clustered around the new public square surrounding Westgate Church.
“Granting planning permission for another cinema in Queensgate would put these plans and the benefits they bring to the city and the local community at serious risk. Cinema operators have made clear that the city cannot sustain two cinemas so near to each other.
“There is no other viable anchor, leisure, retail or otherwise, for the North Westgate scheme. There is no other proposal to re-generate North Westgate on the horizon – it needs the cinema for it to happen.”
Developers have warned a £100 million regeneration of Peterborough’s North Westgate could be at risk if the venture does not include a cinema.
The alarm has been sounded by the boss of Hawksworth Securities who says only the inclusion of a proposed multi-screen cinema can ensure the success of the long-awaited project.
Hawksworth chairman Peter Breach’s warning was prompted by comments from the leader of Peterborough City Council, Cllr John Holdich, who said the North Westgate developers needed to find another anchor point for the scheme.
Cllr Holdich was referring to an announcement from the Queensgate shopping centre that it has secured Odeon to run a multi-sreeen cinema that will be the focal point of a planned £30 million development of the centre.
He said: “It does not make sense to have two cinemas next door to each other. It’s not commercially viable.”
“North Westgate has to happen and the council will do its best to make it happen. We will help them to find other options.”
But Mr Breach said: “There is no other viable anchor, leisure, retail or otherwise, for the North Westgate scheme.
“There is no other proposal to regenerate North Westgate on the horizon – it needs the cinema for it to happen.
“What Peterborough doesn’t want is to abandon the long-awaited North Westgate development by giving approval for a rival scheme in Queensgate that offers far less to the city.
“This is not about commercial choices, but planning choices that are in the best interests of Peterborough.”
Mr Breach added: “We are pleased that the leader of the council has raised the issue of the right location for a city centre cinema.
“Cllr Holdich is right to conclude that there is only room for one cinema in the centre. The right location is in North Westgate.
“The North Westgate scheme has already attracted a firm offer in writing from one leading cinema operator and we are in discussion with other well-known operators who express a preference for the piazza location. We also have a firm proposal from a major hotel operator.
“We are sure the people of Peterborough would prefer a cinema that is part of an attractive new public square, surrounded by cafes and restaurants, a food hall and new environmental features including a water-route, rather than enclosed in an upper storey above a shopping centre.
“A cinema in Queensgate adds to an already thriving Queensgate. A cinema in North Westgate will be the catalyst for the regeneration of an entire district and is the right choice for Peterborough.”
Guy Thomas, head of retail asset management at Lendlease, said: “Odeon has confirmed they want to come to Queensgate. Our proposals respond to this very specific demand, which is focused on the centre. If planning permission is granted, we can deliver an exciting new element to Queensgate that adds significantly to the city centre’s appeal to residents and visitors. Given our ownerships in the area, are keen to see development on North Westgate as we view this, as well as our extension of Queensgate, to be beneficial to Peterborough.”