Opinion: ‘Why Peterborough is becoming investment magnet’

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

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 27th March 2022, 12:30 pm
This image shows how Northminster should appear at completion.
This image shows how Northminster should appear at completion.

I’ve said it time and time before, and I will say it again – there really is so much to look forward to and to be excited about it in our city.

The huge amount of investment coming to Peterborough, whether it’s from the Towns Fund, the Levelling Up Fund, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority or the many businesses choosing to invest here, it shows a real confidence in our city and bodes well for our future.

This week alone we have seen work begin on the redevelopment of Northminster, we’re finalising two business cases as part of the Towns Fund to submit to Government to unlock £3.5 million and tomorrow (Friday) we’re due to receive the masterplan for the Embankment regeneration.

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The Northminster project will transform the area with new housing and commercial opportunities – alongside improved public space at Laxton Square. It’s a key project which will see an area in need of regeneration revitalised and will lead to more people living in our city centre, which is good news for businesses. T

he development has been made possible, in part, by a £14 million grant from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

The two Towns Fund business cases I mentioned are for the Green Technology Centre at Peterborough College and an activity centre at Nene Park, and we hope to be able to submit them to Government next month. The Towns Fund Board met earlier this month and gave us the green light to do so. In total, the Government has allocated a potential £22.9 million for our city as part of the Towns Fund.

The Green Technology Centre, a new building at Peterborough College, would deliver an innovative curriculum to get students ready for careers like sustainable construction and electric vehicle manufacturing – sectors which are calling out for qualified future employees and offering high wages.

A planning application for the new building is due to be submitted to our planning committee later this spring – with the build due to start later this year if the planning and funding are approved.

The Lakeside Activity Centre will be a new state-of-the-art climbing facility which will be Olympic standard. The site will feature one of the country’s largest Clip ‘n Climb arenas suitable for all the family, a nature-themed toddler area, a café and spaces for community groups to hire. The planning application was approved in March 2021, and if the funds are approved by Government, the building could be finished in 2023.

Other smaller projects, such as the Embankment Masterplan (£200,000) and the Enterprise Hub (£120,000) did not require business cases and have already had their funding delivered. The rest of the Towns Fund projects will be submitted to Government in July for a funding decision.

Each of these projects will deliver something new for our city, which will enhance life for those who live, work and visit here.

In addition, the Embankment Masterplan is due to be published tomorrow following an extensive public consultation last year.

It’ll be available to read on both the council’s website and the consultation website – something I personally asked to happen so that people can consider what is in the report.

Once published, the masterplan will need careful consideration from officers over the coming months to determine if the proposals are viable and to recommend the next steps.

Staying on the subject of our growing city, you might have heard that Peterborough has bid to become the home of the new Great British Railways headquarters.

At the heart of our proposal is a £43 million state-of-the-art gateway station development on the site of the current train station and that would make the Great British Railway HQ its anchor tenant.

Back in October I attended the Conservative Party conference where Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps announced there would be a competition for places to bid to be the home for the new headquarters.

I came back enthused and thought Peterborough would be a fantastic place, so I set about getting wheels turning, and asked Opportunity Peterborough to put together a bid on behalf of the city. I’m pleased that has now happened and it’s fingers crossed from here.

If we progress to the next stage it will be down to the public to vote for the winner – so I will let you know if and when we need your support.

We have been successful at attracting many businesses and government departments to our city so we have good experience. The Passport Office has been in our city for many years and very soon moves to a new location on Fletton Quays along with Defra, who are the latest to make Peterborough their home.

And finally, local elections will be taking place on May 5 and in Peterborough elections will be held in 18 wards, and in some areas there will be parish council elections too.

In order to be able to vote, residents must be on the electoral register. If you’re not already, the deadline to register is midnight on April 14. You can apply online at gov.uk/register-to-vote.