Call for plan for Peterborough’s Embankment

The EmbankmentThe Embankment
The Embankment | Other 3rd Party
One of the city’s most cherished open spaces is all set for a total transformation, write Ken Mehmed and Peter Lee from Peterborough Civic Society.

OK, it’s not quite ‘all set’ and it might not be ‘total’ but you will certainly notice changes should the intensions of the leader of the city council come to pass.

The April 2 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph carried a story on pages 18/19 about the ‘University Master Plan’ which was gleaned from a city council document approved by Cllr Holdich. (It was intended to present this to the council’s Cabinet, but all meetings have been suspended for the foreseeable future).

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

This document is specifically about the setting up of a joint venture company to bring forward new buildings to house the teaching and some social elements of the proposed University of Peterborough (UOP). The partners in this company would be the city council and the combined authority. Other partners could come on-board such as the academic body which will eventually comprise the UOP.

The new masterplan for the Embankment from the city councilThe new masterplan for the Embankment from the city council
The new masterplan for the Embankment from the city council

A number of issues are raised which are of concern to anyone with the best interests of the city at heart.

Firstly, on a positive note we are pleased to see the progress being made on the first phase building on the former Wirrina site which would probably have been receiving full planning approval by now but for the coronavirus lockdown.

Here are the civic society comments.

Absence of a Framework Plan for the whole Embankment site

There is no approved plan of how the Embankment is to be redeveloped, no vision of its future role, of what is to be located there and how much will remain as usable open space.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

An exact area of land, 13.5 acres, is identified which is shown on a plan. This includes the Wirrina car park, Regional Pool car park and the all-weather sports pitch. It is too early to be committing boundaries to a single use.

By all means go ahead with the Phase 1 building but there is time to formulate an overall framework plan involving discussion and consultation with a wide range of city-wide stakeholders.

There are potential pitfalls in following a piecemeal approach. The adopted Local Plan, less than one year old, shows the 13.5 acre site as part residential, open space and university.

It also states that built development should be confined along the frontage to Bishop’s Road.

These inconsistencies need to be sorted out.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

We feel that the future of the Embankment is a major strategic issue which deserves a full programme of involvement by the general public, local business and voluntary bodies as well as our elected representatives. It is urgently needed but should not be rushed.

University Body

As it stands there is no academic body in place to achieve degree awarding status for the university. The combined authority has put this vital role out for bids and the PT article states that a decision is expected in May. Surely the body which will become the UOP should have a say in the location and extent of their own campus? Better to wait until this aspect is firmed up.

Stadium/Events Arena

The ‘Master Plan’ map includes a caption headed ‘Future Development’ that somewhere on the Embankment there is potential for: ‘A large scale (regional) events arena, with riverside bars and restaurants.’

There is no mention of a relocation of the PUFC stadium. So is this the same thing or, potentially, a duplication? In either case the implications would be considerable involving impact of traffic and car parking and views of the cathedral.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The stadium would be a very large structure, probably as tall as the Cathedral tower, which would have a damaging impact on the open setting of the cathedral. These factors add to the obvious need for a framework plan for the Embankment and the Fengate site on the other side of Frank Perkins Parkway.

Once the current crisis is manageable and some normality resumes there will, no doubt, be a good deal of soul searching and re-assessment of priorities in all aspects of life.

Perhaps, one such rethink should see the city council instigate work on setting out a vision and framework for the Embankment to make the most of its open and riverside character, as well as its role in enabling new developments which will enhance the city.

Related topics:

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.