North Westgate

Well done Peterborough City Council.

Thursday, 10th November 2016, 12:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:04 pm
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton -

Now there’s five words you didn’t expect me to say and, no, I’ve not gone early with the Christmas sherry.

Here’s another unexpected five words: well done Councillor John Holdich.

The council and John, the council leader, have taken a battering recently – deserverdly so – from presiding over shockingly bad education results to doing a deal with the devil (sorry, Steff & Philips) which will see hard-working decent folk turfed out of their homes to make way for homeless people.

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Add to that giving themselves a 27 per cent pay rise and then rubbing salt in the wounds by giving the rest of us a whopping council tax rise, and it’s been a bad few weeks.

The council and Cllr Holdich came under more fire for announcing plans to spend £15m to buy up land and kickstart the much delayed North Westgate development.But not from me.

It’s a bold and much needed move if the site is to be developed any time soon.

The development of any large site is complex and many factors come into play but the city has been waiting too long to see some concrete (literally) moves on this key site.

Peter Breach, chairman of developer Hawksworth which has long been interested in developing the site was, I think its fair to say, seriously dischuffed by the council’s new move.

Mr Breach told the PT that his company could have “cranes on the ground’’ in a year’s time for its £100m cinema-led homes, leisure and retail development, even though it had seemed the council’s decision to give permission to Queensgate to build a multiplex cinema might have scuppered their plans.

Cllr Holdich, who says Hawksworth can still be involved in North Westgate’s future, has grasped the nettle. Hopefully he won’t get stung.

There will be more twist and turns in this saga but the five words I’d really like to say are: North Westgate has been developed.