I attended the City Council’s Planning Committee last week to speak in favour (very reluctantly) of deferring the plans to extend Queensgate Shopping Centre in preference for allowing the much more important and long term North Westgate scheme some breathing space, in order to assemble its own proposals for large scale regeneration in an area which is blighted and frankly an eyesore and embarrassment.
The City Council seemingly disregarded its own planning policy and it is a decision councillors may well regret in time. It was and is a crazy decision that puts the North Westgate plans for a hotel, shops, restaurants and badly needed city centre homes, in jeopardy. We’re keen on film in Peterborough.....but two cinemas PLUS the Showcase? I don’t think so.
Of course Queensgate’s expansion is of itself a good thing but the centre’s owners have often “cried wolf” before about how they had to expand at any cost or lose out to regional shopping competitors: and yet they’ve seemed to have weathered potential problems recently with the growth of out of town shopping at Serpentine Green, Brotherhood Retail Park and Peterborough Garden Park. And the previous owners deliberately blocked the North Westgate plans for their own ends for many years too. Of course they have to refresh a shopping centre frozen in time in 1982 and they’ve made a great start at Westgate Arcade and the area around Carluccio’s.
But I’m disappointed that heads weren’t banged together a lot sooner so that all parties could work together for what can and could be to all our mutual benefit. It can still happen and wiser heads than mine are surely working on it as I write.
Forty years ago, Peterborough missed the boat on building its own university - for the want of some imaginative thinking. Let’s not have the same thing happen again with this vital regeneration project.
My constituents want new jobs and new homes in the heart of our city. Let’s make sure we see it through this time?