Big outdoor show organisers revise attractions as East of England Arena operator outlines £50 million leisure village plan

Festival organisers plan changes to fit smaller venue

By Paul Grinnell
Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 5:00 am

Organisers of some of Peterborough’s largest outdoor festivals are revising future shows after a £50 million redevelopment project for the East of England Arena was unveiled.

Large scale attractions such as monster vehicle festival Truckfest, the National Motorhomes and Campervan Show and the celebration of giant diggers Plantworx, MCN, Antiques and Peterborough Panthers have all been told there might not be space for them in the new look Arena.

The warning comes as Asset Earnings Power Group (AEPG), which operates the Arena, said it is to accelerate its proposals for a major leisure village development on the 165 acre showground with the goal of submitting planning applications for the development before July 1 next year.

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Some of the big vehicle clashes at Truckfest at the East of England Arena and Events Centre, which says it needs a big venue for its full show.

It means many of the outdoor events will have to find new venues or change from July 1 next year.

Colin Ward, managing director of Live Promotions Events, which puts on Truckfest, said it was planned to reduce the size of the event in 2024 so it could be staged at the Arena but with a full scale event held at a new venue nearby.

He said: “We run eight Truckfests throughout the UK from Edinburgh down to Shepton Mallet and we are greatly looking forward to bring Truckfest to Peterborough yet again in 2023.

"Whilst this will be our final year at the East of England Arena, we are only moving short way away, where it will be business as usual and where we will be welcoming all our regular visitors and participants.

Diggers at the Plantworx festival at the East of England Arena and Events Centre, which need plenty of space for digging displays.

He added: “Peterborough is one of our original showground venues and we’ve been at Peterborough since 1984.

"We are considering changing Truckfest so it can be featured at the East of England Arena in a different format after 2023.

Sally Dodds, head of events at National Motorhomes and Campervan Show, which will take place over three days next April, said: “We haven’t really decided yet.

“We have been using the Arena since 1991. We are looking at changing the size of our event – essentially we will not be doing the outdoor camping, which took up a lot of space.

The National Motorhomes Show at the East of England Arena, which may have to scrap the camping element of its programme to remain at the venue.

"We knew this was going to happen, it was just a matter of time.

"It is a shame but inevitable. If we can make the changes we will, if not, we won’t.”

But there does not seem to be an alternative for Plantworx, which is one of the UK's largest live, working construction events, and will held at the Arena next June.

A spokeswoman said: “We will carry out next year’s show then we will have to find a new venue although we will look to do a Futureworx exhibition indoors at the Arena in 2024. We will move in 2025 as the Arena cannot accommodate us as Plantworx involves displays of machines digging.

"I don’t know where we will go yet. The hunt starts now.”

Bosses of speedway club Peterborough Panthers, which has raced at its track on the Arena for 52 years, have called for urgent talks to save next season and its place in the city.

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