Outdoor pods and free wifi as Peterborough café culture prepares to begin

New plans to create a café culture in Peterborough have been revealed.

Tuesday, 2nd March 2021, 2:29 pm
A new pod is due to open outside the Lightbox Cafe
A new pod is due to open outside the Lightbox Cafe

Four pods and outdoor seating areas will be opened in Cathedral Square, St John’s Square, Bridge Street and Westgate throughout April and May.

Developed by Peterborough Positive, the city’s new business improvement district - comprising of city centres businesses, Peterborough City Council and Queensgate Shopping Centre - plans for the café culture approach have been developed over the last year and will be going ahead due to a £800,000 grant application to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

The pods, alongside improved lighting, will “deliver a European café culture, offering protection from the elements and an ambient and comfortable area to sit, eat and dine in all weathers - day and night,” according to the council.

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Moreover, there will be free public access wifi which will be launched across the city centre from CambWifi at the same time.

The full changes

. Cathedral Square (opening April 12) – Outdoor pod outside Bean Around coffee shop, with a covered ceiling and well-ventilated sides made from recycled plastic from the Mediterranean. Suitable for 16 seated and six standing customers to use, following Covid-19 safe social distancing requirements.

. Bridge Street (opening mid-April) - Outdoor pod outside the Lightbox Café, with a covered ceiling and well-ventilated sides. The pod will be used to serve coffee and food during the daytime and cocktails and alcoholic drinks, alongside a tapas style menu, in the evening.

. St John’s Square (opening mid -April) - A new communal area, operated by businesses already established in the city centre, will invite city centre visitors to take a seat with friends and family while enjoying food and beverages from the surrounding cafés, pubs and restaurants. It will be open throughout the day and into evening.

. Westgate (opening June) - An outside pod on Westgate outside The Banyan Tree, with a covered ceiling and well-ventilated sides. The pod will be used to serve food and drinks during the daytime and evening.

Mark Broadhead, chair of Peterborough Positive, said: “The café culture initiative has been designed to bring about positive change in Peterborough by attracting more people into the city. It is hoped the project will help retain hospitality and retail jobs and improve business productivity. We are excited to bring this initiative to the city centre and believe it will be welcomed by residents and those working in the city, as well as visitors to Peterborough.”

Cllr Marco Cereste, cabinet member for street scene at Peterborough City Council, said: “With Covid-19 restrictions lifting once again we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to support businesses and the visitors they serve by increasing the numbers who can eat and drink in our city centre, extending the hours they can serve and the weather they can serve outside in.

“A café culture approach is perfect for this and I want to give credit to both Peterborough Positive and the businesses involved who have helped to develop this, and the combined authority who have delivered the funding to make this happen.”

Mayor James Palmer, leader of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, said: “This shows how we can build back better from the pandemic – a testament to what can happen when businesses, civil society and local government are underpinned by a clear vision.

“This vision is more than putting Peterborough on the map as a hub for café culture. With a commitment to enhanced connectivity through CambWifi and funding for aesthetic improvements, this puts Peterborough in a robust position for growth and development for the long-term;, giving the city a competitive advantage as Covid restrictions ease.

“It is vitally important that we see a resurgence on our high streets and city centres in the coming months and years, and this project puts that sentiment front and centre.”