Opinion: ‘We’re setting out our vision for future of Embankment’

Kem Mehmed, of Peterborough Civic Society, looks at the future of Peterborough’s Embankment...

Saturday, 13th March 2021, 10:37 am
Peterborough's Embankment.
Peterborough's Embankment.

The Peterborough Civic Society would like to congratulate PT reader Andy Cole on his excellent letter about the future of the Embankment published in the newspaper in February.

The society echoes his opinions and particularly emphasises the extremely opaque way that the city council has been approaching this. We should now concentrate our efforts on ensuring that the citizens of the city have a real say on the future of the Embankment.

We can all agree that action is badly needed to rejuvenate this green lung in the centre of our city.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A site plan for the new university in Peterborough

We at the civic society have been insisting on the need for a Master Plan to guide all development and enhancement works on the vast Embankment site.

Various Town Hall promises have ben made with no real outcome apart from piecemeal proposals for the Anglia Ruskin University which have resulted in building work underway on site with Phase One and a very recent planning application for Phase Two.

These two significant buildings do not appear to be part of a coherent plan for the University campus itself. As far as we can see there has been little ‘joined-up thinking’ despite the fact that, even though there is no plan for the entire campus, more than 13 acres of land have been transferred to the body charged with building and running the University.

Perhaps that’s now water down the river. So, what should happen from now on? In our view we should embark on realistic local democratic process which involves the widest range of participants. Ask the people what they would love to see on the Embankment.

An artist's impression of the proposed ARU Peterborough campus building.

What is your VISION of a future Embankment?

A Brighter Better Embankment – how to get it:

1. Ask the people

- What is your vision for the place?

- Should it be an open space which is quiet, natural, wild, tranquil?

- Should it have more trees and shrubs, be more of an urban park with small scale leisure activities?

- Must it provide at least one open area ideal for events, festivals, concerts and other performances?

- Should part of it be given over to a new football stadium?

2. Discover what is feasible:

- Commission a detailed technical study by a multi-disciplinary team of city council staff and consultants to find out what is on and under the Embankment and what are the opportunities and challenges.

- What are the capacities and limitations – traffic, parking, cycling and walking access and public transport?

3. Appraisal by the city council of the ‘People’s Voices’ and the ‘Technical Findings’:

- Produce a report of the technical study and public comments with initial analysis and recommendations.

4. Publish findings:

- Publish findings and conduct consultation with public through meetings, known contacts, local press, radio and social media.

5. Master Plan options:

- Publish a number of feasible options for real action and follow up with a round of public consultation.

6. Select best Master Plan and get it done:

The agreed plan of action should be put in place and carried out so that the citizens of Peterborough can have a stake in and give it their enthusiastic support. The process may take a little longer, probably 10 to 12 months, but it will be worth it. The future direction of the Embankment is crucial to the future vitality and viability of the city centre as a whole and it is of paramount importance to get it right with the public’s approval.

The POSH Stadium:

The civic society is not against a new stadium for the football club.

We believe that a successful professional club at the highest level is a great asset to any city and if Posh gain promotion in May it will give a timely boost to our recovery from the corona-virus lockdowns.

Our concern is to get the best outcome for the Embankment which may, given the process mentioned above, include a stadium or performance arena. This should not be taken as a given until all the implications of such a proposal have been explored and must be done in the context of a master planning process.

It must be borne in mind that any proposal to place buildings on the Embankment at any distance from the Bishop Road frontage would be contrary to the policies in the council’s own Local Plan, which was adopted only 18 months ago.

The future direction of the football club is in the hands of the people who own and run the club, it is not for the civic society to tell the club where it should invest in a new stadium. Of course, the club is more than just a business run by businessmen, it has a community of its own, the fans, and it also has responsibilities to the broader community of the city. However, it is vital that the city council invests time and resources wisely in the interests of both the city and the football club.