Opinion: ‘Exciting and busy times for Peterborough’

Wayne Fitzgerald, city council leader and Conservative group leader on Peterborough City Council writes...

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 27th February 2022, 1:45 pm
The new market will open in the summer
The new market will open in the summer

One of many exciting developments that I’m looking forward to seeing completed is our new look City Market and Food Hall in Bridge Street.

The great news for shoppers is that the market’s opening is now just a few months away, with the event scheduled for June.

It’s fantastic that we will have a vibrant modern market in the heart of the city, benefiting from much higher footfall and coinciding with our city’s ongoing enhancement.

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The market will initially comprise a state-of-the-art indoor Food Hall with two butchers and a fishmonger, located in the old Customer Contact Centre.

There will be 12 permanent stalls, housed in three contemporary timber kiosks, beneath the trees in the centre of Bridge Street. These will give shoppers a variety of goods to buy from independent traders, ranging from fresh food to hospitality items.

There will also be 12 pop-up stalls which could be used by traders on a part-time basis, or during a themed event, such as a vegan, continental or Christmas market.

There is plenty of scope to increase the number of pop-up stalls in the future.

Bridge Street was identified as ideal for a new market, with its high footfall and close location to Cathedral Square, as well as the proposed new Vine library and culture hub.

Footfall is expected to increase even further this year with the opening of the new ARU Peterborough University, the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel and the new Government Hub at Fletton Quays.

The market will now be decanted from its current location in Northminster, with the old site being transformed into more than 300 new homes. Construction is set to start on March 31, with the sale of this land covering the costs of the market relocation.

For us, it’s a win-win situation. We will have a bustling city market, plus over 300 city centre residents, who we know are far more likely to favour walking/cycling as default modes of transport and who will spend money in our city centre shops, cafes, bars and market stalls.

As I often say, Peterborough’s time really is now – there is so much for us all to look forward to.

Peterborough’s impressive development means that we’re one of the country’s fastest growing cities, and whilst that’s something to be proud of, it also creates challenges.

One of which is ensuring the right infrastructure is in place for everyone to benefit, particularly when it comes to our schools.

We must provide enough school places to meet rising demand – which we are actively doing, with new schools being built at Manor Drive and Hampton Water, as well as ensuring that our existing facilities are up to standard.

I’m delighted that work has started on a major upgrade at Heltwate School near Bretton. Heltwate is a special school for pupils aged five to 19 with moderate to severe learning difficulties and additional medical needs.

The £6.8m council-funded project includes a substantial new building to house five new class spaces, a hall, sensory rooms, therapy rooms, hygiene rooms, an outdoor covered play area, outdoor hard and soft play areas, providing much-needed special educational needs places.

The work will also result in the removal of temporary classrooms and is expected to be completed by next spring.

The need for special school places in Peterborough is constantly increasing, and we have a duty to provide appropriate and imaginative accommodation to enable these young people to thrive.

The future of Bretton oak tree has been debated by the council recently, attracting much interest.

At a meeting of our cabinet on Monday it was decided that a third independent expert assessment and report will be commissioned before a final decision is made.

I hope that when this next report is finalised everyone involved accepts its recommendations.

Cabinet members made the decision after reading a report prepared by officers, looking at the recommendations of the Growth, Environment and Resources Scrutiny Committee and listening to both officers and other speakers during the meeting.

Following this additional report, if the decision is made to fell the tree, we are also recommending that 100 extra oak trees are planted in the city – to offset the carbon impact of its loss.

Whatever the outcome, this will be a very difficult decision with several factors having to be considered.

I want the council to be open and transparent about everything we do, so it’s only right that this decision is made in public and the reasons are clear and understood.

The relaxing of Covid restrictions announced this week will come as welcome news to many after a long and painful two years.

Cases in Peterborough are declining, but remain quite high, so we urge people to continue to follow safety guidance where possible and to respect the rights of others to do this.

Take-up of the vaccine and booster remains the best way for people to stay healthy, so once again please get the vaccine and booster.

Going forwards, we may be able to live with Covid, but the virus has not gone away and it could still be a threat.