Peterborough’s redundant police station on Bridge Street is to be demolished and replaced with a budget hotel, writes the Civic Society’s Toby Wood and Kem Mehmed.
Back in the 1980s, when the bus station was relocated to Queensgate and Lower Bridge Street was paved over, an alternative for vehicular traffic was provided by two sections of road named Rivergate.
The police station, only about 20 years old at the time, was considered a fixture and this prevented the obvious replacement re-alignment. In the event one two-lane road took north-bound traffic to the left of the police station and the south-bound traffic was routed around the building to leave it on its own on an island site. An underpass for pedestrians and cyclists gave access to the Embankment but was not located where it was most needed at the Town Bridge/Customs House corner where instead a traffic light controlled crossing in two parts was installed. This did not give access to the police station. Visitors to the station had to take their chances with a break in the traffic.
Today, with a clean sheet, we have the perfect opportunity to make good the compromises of the past and create a transformation in the street scene at this busy gateway to the city centre and the Embankment. The southbound section of Rivergate (road) could be closed and the whole area between the Customs House and the new hotel could be repaved and landscaped providing an attraction on the main route to the quayside and the Key Theatre.
An additional bonus is that a valuable development site would be created from the leftover pieces of closed road.
With the massive investment of Fletton Quays and the proposed locating of the university on the Embankment there is going to be a significant increase in visitors to the riverside areas, especially when (not if) a new bridge is built to link with the arts centre at Whitworth Mill.
A much simpler, more user-friendly, light controlled crossing could also be provided to make match days easier for Posh supporters and visitors alike.
What needs to be done now is simply to ensure that the proposed hotel is set back about 3 metres from the existing building line to enable an extra lane to be built in the future when funds permit. If the current design of the proposed hotel is permitted the chance will be lost for another 25 years. Very little money needs to be spent straight away, just enough to draw up a plan to make sure the road layout will work.
The planning application for the hotel goes before the city council’s committee on September 4.
If it is approved, the opportunity to make a big improvement to this part of the city centre will be lost for another generation.
The application reference is 18/00894/FUL. If you are concerned or interested write to Chairman of the Planning and Environmental Protection Committee, Councillor Chris Harper, email; firstname.lastname@example.org
This year’s Heritage Open Days are from 6 - 9th September, during which 33 buildings and venues in and around Peterborough are open free of charge. There is a wide range of places to explore, from Faizan E Madina Mosque to Crowland Abbey, the Energy Recovery Facility and even the Greyhound Stadium. Readers can pick up a free leaflet from the Visitor Information Centre in Bridge Street or download it from our website.