A fantastic addition to Peterborough

An artist's impression of the new leisure and culture hub in Bridge StreetAn artist's impression of the new leisure and culture hub in Bridge Street
An artist's impression of the new leisure and culture hub in Bridge Street
L ast week I told you about the funding bid we had made to the Government as part of the Towns Fund to further transform our city.

The development of our cultural infrastructure is a key part of our bid for up to £25million from the fund and I can now tell you about one of the projects that we hope it will be able to support, writes cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council.

The council has announced its intention this week to purchase the TK Maxx and former New Look buildings in Bridge Street to be able to transform them into a new city centre library and multi-purpose hub.

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The hub would include community facilities, meeting rooms, rehearsal rooms and studios, space for independent businesses such as a community café, together with access to facilities for community learning and education.

It would be a fantastic addition to this part of the city – close to the new university campus and Fletton Quays – allowing us to equip even more residents with the skills they need to secure employment and get on in life. It will also ensure the units don’t remain vacant when TK Maxx moves its store into Queensgate next year.

We’re looking to purchase the buildings for just under £4million, plus Stamp Duty and land tax, and contribute up to £5million towards conversion and refurbishment costs, although we expect part of these costs to be met following confirmation of our Towns Fund award.

In addition, we’ll be able to make money out of the project, including commercial income from the second and third floors of the building and the former New Look shop. We’ll also be looking to sell the existing Central Library site and Chauffeurs Cottage to developers to generate an income for the council.

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This is a really exciting project for our city, which will breathe new life into Bridge Street and create fantastic opportunities for our residents. And if our Towns Fund application is approved in full, it will be the first of many exciting developments to come!

We have a vision for Peterborough and yet again we are seeing that vision become a reality. You can rest assured the council will continue to work hard to keep services going, its residents safe and well and to keep the city moving.

l On the subject of development, I was pleased to see Peterborough United getting back to work again on their plans for a new stadium in the city.

Our shared goal is to create a stadium that is suitable for the football club in the 21st century, supporting its aspiration to play at a higher level, and will benefit the city as a whole and support our ambitions for growth.

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Like any major investor or developer, we are committed to working closely with the club to listen to how its plans are shaping up and provide planning advice to help them work in accordance with our planning policies and so ensure a new stadium for Posh is delivered as quickly as possible.

l I’m pleased to tell you that the government’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme is having a fantastic effect here in Peterborough, with over 100 businesses already signed up.

We’ve done our bit too, by making free car parking available at the Car Haven car park from 5pm Monday - Wednesday up until the end of the month, helping residents enjoy an even cheaper night out.

I gather several restaurants have experienced increased midweek custom, including Middleton’s and the Banyan Tree. Some were understandably concerned that their weekend trade may suffer, but this has remained healthy.

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Equally encouraging is the fact that more and more people are coming into the city centre during the week. Indeed, the latest Centre for Cities data shows that footfall levels for early July had a peak of around 80 per cent of pre-lockdown levels.

I’m really proud of our city centre – we’ve worked hard to help regenerate it and it’s now an attractive, vibrant area offering a great choice for meals or drinks out.

So please make the most of it, the local economy is recovering and everybody has a part to play in this.

l Last week saw the re-opening of some of our city’s key leisure and heritage facilities and I’m pleased to say that this week sees some more welcome news –the reopening of our play areas.

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I know it’s been a frustration for many families that these have been out-of-bounds for so long, but obviously the safety of our residents is paramount.

Our officers have been working hard over the past few weeks to inspect and risk assess over 150 play areas in the city and we are now in position to begin a phased reopening of them, but with safety measures in place.

Coronavirus has not gone away and we all need to continue to follow the rules and stay alert and stay safe. New signage is being installed in the play areas to remind visitors of what they can do to safeguard themselves and other visitors, including socially distancing at all times, taking hand sanitiser or wipes to use before and after using the equipment and above all else, staying at home if showing symptoms of Covid-19. So please enjoy being able to use our play facilities again, but bear these measures in mind at all times.