Boss of new East of England Showground operator outlines potential of planned multi-million pound development of venue
The new operator of Peterborough’s Showground has revealed how a 50 acre leisure hub will be the focal point of a multi-million pound development of the venue.
Ashley Butterfield (46) is chief executive of Asset Earned Power Group (AEPG), which has been chosen to oversee a major residential and leisure development of the 165 acre East of England Showground.
Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph shortly after the announcement, he said a publicly accessible ‘competitive socialisation’ leisure hub spread over 50 acres of the site would be at the heart of the planned development of the Showground.
He said: “We estimate the cost of the leisure facilities will be about £12 million to £15 million and we expect work on this to begin soon.”
It was announced late last week that AEPG had entered into a land promotion agreement with the East of England Agricultural Society to develop and enhance the 165 acre Showground site with a leisure-led mixed use development that includes housing.
The deal involved the purchase of the event catering business, East of England Showground Services, from the Society.
Mr Butterfield, whose professional background features leisure, health, fitness and development, said: “Our ambition is to create facilities that will provide active leisure for people of all ages that is fun for all in a social environment.
“The focus will be on providing soft competitive sport from bowling and mini-golf to axe- throwing.”
Mr Butterfield also vowed there would be a future for the existing Arena and Events Centre in the development.
He said: “The Arena and Events Centre is a huge asset for the Showground and our intention is to keep the buildings and facilities and to enhance them.
“The leisure development will take place around the Arena and we are confident the development will create in excess of 400 jobs.
“AEPG has been created specifically for this project and the team has an array of expertise.
“We had been talking to the Society for more than 13 months about this partnership and we are excited by the challenge.”
However, a significant part of the proposed development of the Showground, which has been operated by the Agricultural Society since 1916, will be a large swathe of housing.
Mr Butterfield said the number of homes to be built would be decided in discussion with Peterborough City Council.
While the Agricultural Society still owns the Showground land, Mr Butterfield said the land would eventually be sold to the ‘right and chosen developer’.
He said it was hoped to submit a planning application to the council next spring with development works likely to start in 2024 and would take five years to complete.
He added: “We envisage it will be mix of housing types, It is a large site and is an opportunity to achieve a large number of homes.”
The search for a future for the Showground has been in progress for some years
Alistair Beattie, interim chief executive of the East of England Agricultural Society, said, “The end of the three-day agricultural show in 2012 meant that the showground was no longer essential to the future of the Society.
“Our alliance with AEPG allows the development of the leisure facilities and wider site, leaving the Society to focus on its charitable aims of promoting agriculture, education, and rural life.”