Is it time for Peterborough to push for UK City of Culture?

Happy New Year everyone (writes columnist Lee Clarke) '“ 2017 has finally said farewell and it brought us some really great additions to the Peterborough food and drink scene; whether it was unique and exciting chains like Turtle Bay, Wagamamas or Queen's Head or the growth of independents like Stoneworks and Puzzles?

Sunday, 7th January 2018, 8:00 am
Cathedral Square. Photo: Bob Laughton

For us at Prévost it was our first full year in operation and it was a great one.

2018 promises to be just as exciting with the recent announcement of the gin distillery and restaurant coming to Fletton Quays – alongside all the other exciting elements of the development. There is always the prospect of more new restaurants and bars too, and who knows what may be on our High Street by the end of 2018!

Looking back on 2017, and ahead to 2018, has got me thinking that perhaps it is time for Peterborough to set itself the, admittedly big, ambition of being a future UK City of Culture.

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Lee Clarke at his Prevost Restaurant, Priestgate EMN-160527-184834009

Many people made comments when Hull was chosen, but the success has been staggering and the statistics prove it.

324,000 visits were made to the ‘Made in Hull’ opening week last year and over half a million visits were made to Hull’s museums and galleries in the first four months of 2017 alone. Seventy per cent of local residents felt that being the UK City of Culture had had a positive impact on the lives of local people while nine in ten residents attended an event.

While at first glance the possibility of Peterborough being a future UK City of Culture may seem far-fetched – we have some great cornerstones on which to build, and that we should be really proud of. Our great cathedral is celebrating its 900th year in 2018 and is already widely visited by tourists from around the world and the envy of many cities.

The Broadway theatre is slowly being revitalised with some great national shows set to hit the stage this year and the Key Theatre continues to grow with some really special performances, particularly from the talented Key Youth Theatre.

Lee Clarke at his Prevost Restaurant, Priestgate EMN-160527-184834009

This isn’t to mention the already great work done by Metal in promoting arts and entertainment; they will soon have a new home in The Mill at Fletton Quays.

As well as all these inner-city delights we have the beautiful Nene Park which is already a treasure that we love very much. Just think of the kind of events that could be created in such a wonderful landscape.

You can add The Green Backyard to that as well – a great example of community work and co-operation.

Of course there would be some real drive and hard work needed to make this a reality, but even just looking at these things I’ve mentioned and you can start to see a framework of great venues and sights that could be a foundation on which to build, and a chance to put Peterborough on the map on our own terms.

Lee Clarke is head chef at Prévost in Priestgate, Peterborough