Peterborough’s city centre will ‘rival Manchester and Birmingham after redevelopment’

As you probably know by now, last week I announced my plans to step down as both council leader and councillor after the elections in May, writes leader of Peterborough City Council Cllr John Holdich in his weekly column.

Saturday, 25th January 2020, 5:57 am
Cathedral Square

I’ve been serving the residents of Peterborough now since I was in my 30s and at the age of 75 both my wife Barbara and I have decided it’s time to achieve the many things we have on our bucket list while we are still able to.

Although I know I’ve made the right decision, there’s a part of me that wishes I could stay to experience the next four years, which I predict will deliver big things for our city. I’ve double checked with my granddaughter and I believe I’m suffering from what the young people describe as FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out!

On Monday, our new MP Paul Bristow and myself met with Paul Grinnell, business editor at the Peterborough Telegraph, to update him on the next stage of the City Centre Local Development Framework.

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As regular readers of my column will know, this document looks at the city centre and identifies and plans key areas to be developed in the coming years, such as the station quarter (the area around the train station), North Westgate, Northminster, Rivergate and the university.

We know that the time is now for Peterborough. Our economy and high street are thriving, we’ve got the new university and New Towns funding on its way and crucially, the backing of the Combined Authority to help us make the progression from a small city to a medium one.

The stars are aligned in our favour, but like the Peterborough Development Corporation in the 1960s, the only way to make sure residents get a good deal is to do this in an organised way, with a clear aim – that’s why the City Centre Framework is so important.

It will deliver a city centre that will herald a new era for Peterborough, one in which we can use investor money to secure our ongoing economic success and to create a centre that rivals the likes of Birmingham and Manchester.

Yes, it’s aspirational, but we know investors are interested – just look at the new Government hub relocation to Fletton Quays, the revamp of John Lewis (their most expensive in 2019) and the forthcoming multi-screen Empire Cinema.

That’s why we’ve created a new investor marketing campaign to enable us to cherry pick the right investors to help us deliver this. The next four years will be crucial to delivering a Peterborough that’s an even better place to work, live and play for the next 50 to 100 years.

A key part of the city’s development will be the creation of a dedicated university. As I have said many times before, it is the single biggest thing we can do to stop our talented young people from leaving the city and to give our businesses a good crop of people to apply for jobs.

So I am pleased to tell you that detailed proposals for a new University of Peterborough will be revealed to the public for the first time at an event taking place at the cathedral.

This is a really exciting step forward in our plans to deliver a fully-fledged university and I encourage people to go along and view the designs and tell us what they think, prior to the planning application being finalised.

The event takes place on 4, 5 and 6 February.

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of friend and former councillor John Bartlett at the weekend.

John was passionate about everything he did and was a genuine, well respected councillor and colleague. He knew every inch of his ward and would go out of his way to help others.

John should rightly be remembered as a family man, and as a first class ward councillor who gave so much of his time to improving the lives of the people he represented.

This weekend Peterborough Cathedral is hosting a Tudor-themed programme of events to mark the burial there of Katharine of Aragon on 29 January 1536.

There will be a Tudor Peterborough walk, commemoration service, a family audience with Queen Katharine, a talk by Melita Thomas, co-founder and editor of the Tudor Times website and lots more.

Details of all the events are available at

Finally, residents are invited to a commemoration to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on Monday (27th).

Drama students from St John Fisher Catholic High School will stage a performance in the Guildhall in Cathedral Square at 11.40am, ahead of the commemoration in St John the Baptist Church at 12noon.