Peterborough Regeneration has been worth it

Coun John Holdich at Sand Piper House, Fletton Quays
Coun John Holdich at Sand Piper House, Fletton Quays

Every so often I speak to people who have returned to visit the city centre after some time away, and their reaction often pleases me, writes cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council.

It proves that the work we have done to regenerate our city centre has been worthwhile, with new life breathed into Cathedral Square, St John’s Square, Long Causeway, Bridge Street and many other parts which has in turn attracted new shops, restaurants and businesses.

We’ve also unlocked the economic potential of key sites such as Fletton Quays in order to make them attractive to private investors.

As a result we have more people visiting Peterborough than ever before, more jobs being created and greater investment overall in our city.

Our work is not yet done - on Monday the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough 
Combined Authority’s business board agreed to fund a masterplan and feasibility study for an exciting re-development of the Station Quarter.

The railway station and the land around it is the first impression of our city for thousands of people visiting or passing through, so it’s important that it looks the part and connects well with the rest of the city centre.

If approved by the main board next week, the combined authority would fund around half the cost of completing a masterplan and feasibility study for the station quarter, with the remaining 50 per cent met by the council, Network Rail and LNER.

If the masterplan goes ahead, the site could contain a multi-storey car park, a western station entrance and offices and flats, both of which would be extremely popular given our proximity to London. From October the fastest train times to Kings Cross will be just 39 minutes!

The Station Quarter is one of many sites contained within our Local Plan which was due to be signed off by members at last night’s Full Council meeting. The plan sets out sites within the city and its surrounding villages which are earmarked for development so that developers wanting to invest here can see with ease the potential.

The finished product is the culmination of three years’ hard work by the officers involved and I would like to congratulate them on their success.

Their expert knowledge and skill is evident in the fact that they are now producing local plans for other councils, including Fenland District Council.

This is just one example of the many ways we are generating income to be able to provide the services that our residents need at a time when our government funding is reducing and demand for our services is increasing.

Last week my cabinet colleague Peter Hiller and I met with Yorkshire Building Society following concerns expressed by some residents about its plans to make redundancies.

In the region of 250 people work at the Lynch Wood site, but the company announced last month that it intends to reduce that by 90.

The redundancies are regrettable, but the banking industry is changing and we have to accept that, but we were pleased to hear that job losses have been reduced as far as possible by redeploying staff to other areas of the business. Particularly pleasing was the news that they will be keeping 150 specialist jobs here and plan to retain a presence in the city.

Four French Bulldog puppies are now on the look-out for loving homes after being rescued by our trading standards officers.

Council officers searched a property in Westwood after believing the dogs to have been illegally imported into the area.

They found that paperwork details for the dogs did not comply with government regulations and investigations into the people believed to have been involved are now under way.

If you’re thinking of re-homing a dog and you’re not using a well known homing centre such as Dogs Trust or Wood Green, be suspicious if the seller cannot show you the puppy with its mother and littermates and get as much information about where the puppy has come from, and be especially aware if the seller is from outside the UK.

Illegally importing animals not only increases the risk of spreading disease to the UK, but it also raises serious welfare concerns for the animals, and in many instances results in additional (quarantine) costs for the unsuspecting purchaser.

Finally, I would like to congratulate Boris Johnson on becoming the country’s next Prime Minister. I look forward to hearing how he intends to work with local government to support councils to meet the very serious funding challenges that we face.