Why Peterborough’s high street bucks the trend

At a time when many high streets up and down the country are struggling, I was pleased to learn that here in Peterborough we’re bucking the national trend, writes leader of Peterborough City Council John Holdich.

Saturday, 8th February 2020, 6:13 am
John Lewis Queensgate. Operations manager Tracy Venner EMN-191125-184936009

Our high street has actually grown by one-per-cent. Yes, I know this doesn’t seem like a massive rise, but due to the changing shopping habits of consumers and the rise of internet shopping, this is quite an achievement in today’s world.

AskTraders which completed the study went on to declare Peterborough as having the No.1 thriving high street by comparing cities based on retail growth, bank openings and number of ATMs. We know our visitor dwell times (the amount of time people stay in our city centre) is 101 minutes, that’s much better than the UK benchmark of 73 minutes. And it seems businesses agree with this vote of confidence and are investing in our city at an unprecedented rate – which wouldn’t be happening if they didn’t think they could get their money back.

Not only has John Lewis recently unveiled its £21million revamp – the largest spend on any John Lewis store nationally in 2019, but work will soon begin on a £60million extension to Queensgate, which will deliver a state of the art 10 screen Empire Cinema, and the Draper’s Arms refurbishment is due to finish next month. We also had plenty of new store openings last year, with a good mix of large and small chains and independents, like Deichmann, Swarovski, Tap & Tandoor, Hayes Travel and Bean Around BE.AR coffee shop. Yes, we have discount stores, coffee shops and vape shops, but if you look at where people are spending their money, that’s what they want. My point is that I believe high streets will always have a part to play, but they need to change with the times and deliver what shoppers want to stay successful.

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And there could be more good news on the way for Peterborough’s high street in the form of a Business Improvement District (BID) later this year. We are currently asking businesses if they would like to set up a BID, and so far we’ve had 141 responses – 67 per cent want it to happen, with the rest saying they don’t mind and just one saying no.

If it goes ahead, it will be business led and could potentially release up to £1.75million over five years for investment in the city, which could be spent on things like additional summer events to boost footfall, more floral displays and extra security in the evenings in the city centre. If any business would like to be involved please complete the business survey – www.surveymonkey.com/r/pbbid2

Three years ago the council introduced a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) in the city centre to tackle a variety of issues including littering, begging and other forms of anti-social behaviour. I hope you agree with me, that it has made a real difference in keeping our city centre safe and looking better than ever. We’re now seeking to extend the PSPO for a further three years and its remit so that it allows us to better tackle street drinking, and to make it an offence for individuals to cause harassment, alarm or distress by committing anti-social behaviour. Examples include use of offensive or abusive language and acting in an aggressive manner. We’re consulting on the extension and the changes until 28 February. You can find out more and have your say by visiting www.peterborough.gov.uk or by requesting a paper copy from the Town Hall in Bridge Street.

Finally, I’d like to say well done to our elections team for winning a prestigious award for its dedicated work organising five elections last year. The team has been awarded by the Association of Electoral Administrators (AEA) for its “dedication, outstanding effort and commityear .As well as being the first authority in the country to run a recall petition, there was the subsequent by-election, local and European elections, followed by a snap general election. All were organised smoothly and professionally.

We are extremely proud of the team’s efforts and this award is testament to their hard work and dedication.