LETTER: Verdict on vision for Peterborough, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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The Local Plan will soon be out for another round of consultation. We will need to give it further study but here are our initial comments:

The Good:

A realistic site has been found for a University - the Embankment. This is far better than the earlier vague references to a possible university in the Castor area, a site which would have been too remote from the facilities of the City Centre. The Council now needs to produce a brief for its development recognising that the Embankment will no longer be a predominantly open space and guaranteeing to protect views through to the cathedral.

The idea of a freight terminal close to Stanground – again a rather vague reference in an earlier draft - has been omitted from the Plan so that the folk of Stanground now know where they stand. A bridge to Fletton Quays is recommended now, and provided that this support is serious and resourced, is really good news.

The Bad:

The society argues that key views through to the cathedral need to be protected. Whilst agreeing with that, the council refuses to define what those key views are, and we see the effect being the potential nibbling away of those views by new development. Peterborough sees many houses or offices being converted into houses in multiple occupation or incredibly small flats. We want to see the Council adopt a minimum space standard for these. Although it has now agreed minimum space standards for affordable rented properties, the requirement is unenforceable as it stands and should be extended to all flat units.

The Ugly:

Whilst changes have been made to the Great Kyne proposal for 2,500 houses near Castor, we are not at all convinced that this is the least harmful piece of countryside for a major development allocation around Peterborough. The Council has failed to publish a study looking at Great Kyne alongside other options for such major development. We can only conclude that the Council has chosen it solely because the land happened to be government-owned and its allocation likely to be well received ‘on high’. It is not surprising that there is strong local opposition since the landowner has said that 2,500 dwellings is insufficient to fund the infrastructure improvements needed so, in the long term, the council is likely to be under great pressure to expand the development area. The Society is aware that other villages are unhappy about the development sites that have been allocated which are far closer to their villages than Great Kyne is to Castor.

Is it not time for the Council to give thought to what the optimum size of these villages should be?

David Turnock

Chairman, Peterborough Civic Society