This week is Budget week, which I’ll discuss in next week’s column.
Last week, I met with representatives from Hawksworth Properties to discuss the brilliant (but much delayed) plans for the regeneration of the North Westgate. It is a sign of greater confidence in Peterborough as a place to live and work, that we are seeing plans for major investment in the city centre and beyond come forward in recent weeks. Both the proposals for the refurbishment of Queensgate and the larger regeneration project for North Westgate are welcome examples of this positive trend.
However, we must be careful that we manage this growth in the best interests of Peterborough’s existing communities and the future growth of the city. We have to make sure that these schemes work together, rather than compete against each other. They can be complementary and of mutual benefit.
The North Westgate scheme is recognised in planning policy as a priority for the city and has been well thought out with careful consideration of the local community and extended dialogue with many individuals and organisations. It is a key regeneration project. It contains much needed office space and city centre apartments, as well as an exciting new public space around the Westgate Church. It is anchored on a cinema, which will provide the visitor attraction that makes the scheme viable commercially.
I am concerned that plans for another cinema in Queensgate are likely to put the project in doubt. We cannot afford that. The North Westgate project is long overdue and will bring many benefits beyond retail and leisure – revitalising a whole area of the city and linking up the city centre with the station and with communities along Gladstone Street and Cromwell Road.
I will be urging all parties concerned, including the City Council, to ensure Peterborough prioritises the regeneration of North Westgate with all the benefits that will bring to the wider community and to the overall vibrancy of the city centre.
Planners at the Town Hall and elected City Councillors must have the courage of their convictions and the leadership to protect the long term viability of the most important regeneration project in a generation.
We’ve waited too long for it already and we mustn’t put it in jeopardy for the want of a bit of long term thinking.