“This view ignores environmental impact and the impact on residents”- Campaigners object to Peterborough United’s Embankment Stadium vision

Campaigners in Peterborough have objected to Posh’s vision for a new stadium on the Embankment, published in a feasibility study document.

By Ben Jones
Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 8:05 am
A general view of the how the embankment could look.
A general view of the how the embankment could look.

Last week, the club released a public feasibility study, that it had completed last year, which discussed plans to locate a new 19,400 capacity multi-use stadium on the Embankment.

The clubs say that the location is their preferred site and that they are keen to push ahead with plans. These plans have been met with strong opposition from campaigners though, who described the development as an unacceptable loss of green space. Labour Group Leader on Peterborough City Council, Cllr Shaz Nawaz, has also expressed that he, and his entire group, are opposed to the plans.

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A general view of the how the embankment could look.

Campaigners from Save Peterborough Embankment have now issued a response to the study; criticising several aspects and raising questions about the impact the stadium will have on the environment, noise levels and local businesses. It reads: “The study was published on the council website on August 4 2021 as part of a commitment made by Mr. Thompson ‘to be transparent’. A large amount of information in the document was previously published in early 2020. However, it has received zero publicity until now to the general public.

“The document fails to contain the costings for the embankment or other considered sites. As the people of Peterborough own the embankment and in the spirit of transparency, we insist that the amount it is sold for should be in the public domain.

“The first pages say Middleholme/Potters Way is not considered as it is earmarked for housing – so more housing and less green space. It is also worth stressing at this point that this has been included in many of the claims of acreage and retained green space throughout this campaign. Peterborough is being overdeveloped at an alarming rate without proper consideration for the environment or green spaces. More people mean we need more green spaces, not fewer.

“The document states: ‘This area is described as being a secondary part of the city centre due to poor links and connectivity with the city core and the adjacent riverside areas to the south. Consequently, the open space is relatively underused and generally of poor quality for such a prominent location with riverside frontage. It is recognised that the use of this space for large formal events is positive and that more should be done to encourage wider improvements and better use of the space.’

A general view of the how the embankment could look.

“We strongly disagree with this sweeping statement. The area is so large that the use of it seems less than it actually is – it is used all day every day as an access and egress to the City Centre and surrounding communities, as well as a place of recreation and culture. Despite this, there are no bins or toilets on the site, other than a toilet block that has been abandoned by the council. There are many trees (none of which can be felled) including a memorial copse to the Battle of Trafalgar and a memorial stone to mark that. This has not been mentioned at any point in the document. Green spaces do not need to be heavily used to be important.

“It mentions access roads from Bishop’s Road as ‘avoiding the use of local roads’. Bishop’s Road is a residential area – it is a frequently congested local road. This is also the site of mature Elm Trees - a native species that is in steep decline and must be protected. No trees must be removed to make way for slip roads.

The Embankment does not have “excellent accessibility” by local roads – they are all in residential areas, congested, and the site doesn’t have direct access from a major road.

“The proposed vehicle access route is not acceptable – it cuts through green space and trees. The parking plans are unrealistic and there’s not enough consideration given to the number of people who drive to matches and events.

‘What has become clear from this feasibility study is that each of the individual elements described previously require different considerations in terms of their current and potential value, and subsequently their priority for delivery, but the collective benefit of enabling the proposed masterplan and the economic growth potential it will generate will outweigh the harm due to loss of approx. Six to eight acres (circa 1/3-1/4) of underused open green space and potential impact of views to the Cathedral from surrounding areas.’

“This view ignores environmental impact and the impact on residents – especially those living close to the Cathedral.

“The size of the stadium is continuously played down – it will take up the whole field and destroy a huge amount of green space with negative impacts on local residents, the view from Fletton Quays and views of the Cathedral while damaging a flood plain and wildlife habitats. The plan to also build housing on Middleholme/Potters Way continues to exasperate our objections.

‘There is a huge potential for biodiversity net gain and net carbon zero credentials through the delivery of smart buildings, sustainable movement solutions and environmental improvements to enhance the public realm and access to useable open space.’ These are meaningless phrases aimed at detracting from the fact that there will be a large loss of “useable public open space”, but more importantly, you cannot improve the environment by destroying natural habitat.

“A river taxi can be introduced with no loss of Embankment space – that in no way adds to the argument for development. This originates from an idea proposed many years ago to connect Nene Park to the Embankment. The original vision was for recreation, leisure, economical and social benefits. The use of this in the document suggests that this would instead be used for the commercial gain of Peterborough United Properties Ltd - which isn’t even owned by the Club itself.

‘PUFC currently generates approximately £7 million for the local economy every year. It is envisaged that the new stadium will, in turn, attract new businesses, tourism and further investment to the city’ - this one has come up a few times, and despite members of the team asking publicly and privately, this information has not been substantiated by any research or rationale. How much money will be lost by local businesses because of bars and eateries that have been proposed at the stadium? Away fans will be taken by coach to the site and would not enter the city centre.

‘In total, within a 15-minute walk of the Embankment Site, approximately 2,100 car parking spaces can be located.’ At least there is now some recognition of the need for external space beyond the main stadium footprints, but this is a 19,000-seater stadium used when shoppers are also parking in those spaces – it isn’t enough! Is there any research to suggest that this will increase the use of public transport rather than causing distress to local residents as this will also have a knock-on effect for shoppers and local residents and bring traffic chaos?

“The Local Plan was agreed upon just two years ago – how long before the Masterplan is changed too?

‘A total of 66 retail units were identified within the five-minute buffer, consisting of 12 bars/pubs, 26 food/takeaway establishments, 19 restaurants and nine supermarkets. On matchdays, it is envisaged that any of the above businesses could experience increased custom by supporters travelling on foot for the final part of their journeys to the stadium.’ We dispute this strongly. Residents are put off entering the city centre on match days. Also, if the stadium is to include bars and eateries they will be in direct competition with these established businesses – the impact of the stadium could be a negative one on many businesses. They must be consulted. There is also no differentiation between the impact on independent businesses, as opposed to national or regional businesses that have the ability to offset costs and be more resilient to changes.

“Nowhere are the negative aspects of the Embankment site considered – the fact that green space is being taken from the city with no viable plan to replace it on a like-for-like basis is not mentioned. The negative noise impact on residents – especially those of Stephenson’s Court who have raised objections and are elderly and vulnerable people. Residents of Bishop’s Road have also raised objections on the basis of noise, traffic and the road flooding on a regular basis. There is also no mention currently on the noise impact on the Key Theatre, public users and future university students and staff, something we feel needs careful consideration and proper consultation.

“Who decided they needed that size of site? What research was undertaken to limit the search to within 0.5 miles, when there are some interesting brownfield sites within 0.51 and 1 mile? It shows again that although there has been a ‘feasibility study’ - what steps were actually taken to consider these other sites? Page 64 does not mark the Embankment as the best site, yet the document continues on the basis.

“This is a snapshot of our discrepancies with this document and the way it was funded, conducted, publicised and communicated. If you would like to let us know your thoughts, please feel free to comment, send us a message or drop us an email. We welcome any considerations or concerns that our supporters wish to share as at the heart of our campaign is the commitment to ensure that all voices are heard and considered.”