Over forty years ago, in 1971, the Greater Peterborough Development Plan allocated the North Westgate site for development.
Since then the communities of Central ward and the people of Peterborough generally have waited with increasing impatience for that much needed development to happen. Plans and proposals have come and gone. Commitments have been made. And yet to date nothing has changed. The area remains neglected and under-used – a poor advert for our city and a block to the integration of the communities north of Bright Street with the city centre and the connections across from the station to Westgate.
Finally we now have a viable and exciting proposal on the table with commercial support. I met the developers this summer to discuss the proposed £100 million development of North Westgate which hopefully will transform the area and bring benefits to the city as a whole, creating places to visit, live and work and over 1,000 new jobs. The scheme includes meeting space for the community, a new public square and a food hall.
We should not let anything jeopardise the delivery of these plans. North Westgate is an allocated site in the Council’s plans. It must be prioritised.
Unfortunately, proposals for another cinema in Queensgate do jeopardise these plans. Even the cinema operators say there isn’t room for two cinemas in the city and the ideal and natural location for a cinema is North Westgate.
Putting a cinema into North Westgate will regenerate an entire neighbourhood and will bring benefits to Queensgate too. Without a cinema I’m currently aware of any viable scheme for the site and it will remain as it is – a problem for us all.
I would urge all those involved to make sure it happens without delay and that nothing puts that at risk. We all value Queensgate and recognise the significant contribution it makes to Peterborough, but on this occasion it should stand aside and withdraw its application for a cinema or at least defer its planning application and work on the basis that a thriving North Westgate project will mean Queensgate prospers too. It makes perfect sense.
I trust that the planners at the City Council are listening and do the right thing at the Planning Committee on 29th September.
We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to regenerate a blighted part of the City Centre. Let’s not blow it.