East of England Showground development: 'Spades could go in the ground this time next year'

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Development could create 500 jobs

Work on a £50 million leisure village-led development of the East of England Showground could start this time next year, it has been claimed.

Spades could go in the ground by next April to begin a transformation of the 164 acre site at Alwalton which will see the construction of a multi-use leisure village and 1,500 homes.

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Operators for sports and leisure activities and a national housing developer have already been signed up to the project.

This map shows the development proposals for the East of England Showground. Key for the leisure village:  A. Indoor Arena, B. Padel Courts, C. Hub building, D. Lake E. Multi-use games areas, F. food and beverage, G. Driving Range, H. Adventure Golf, J. Zip Coaster, K. Bouncing Pillows, L. Visitor Centre, M High Ropes, N. Climbing Wall and Bungee Trampolines, O. Park and Picnic, P. Mini Land Rovers, Q. Adventure Play, R. Bike Trail, S. Pub in the Park, T. Trim TrailThis map shows the development proposals for the East of England Showground. Key for the leisure village:  A. Indoor Arena, B. Padel Courts, C. Hub building, D. Lake E. Multi-use games areas, F. food and beverage, G. Driving Range, H. Adventure Golf, J. Zip Coaster, K. Bouncing Pillows, L. Visitor Centre, M High Ropes, N. Climbing Wall and Bungee Trampolines, O. Park and Picnic, P. Mini Land Rovers, Q. Adventure Play, R. Bike Trail, S. Pub in the Park, T. Trim Trail
This map shows the development proposals for the East of England Showground. Key for the leisure village: A. Indoor Arena, B. Padel Courts, C. Hub building, D. Lake E. Multi-use games areas, F. food and beverage, G. Driving Range, H. Adventure Golf, J. Zip Coaster, K. Bouncing Pillows, L. Visitor Centre, M High Ropes, N. Climbing Wall and Bungee Trampolines, O. Park and Picnic, P. Mini Land Rovers, Q. Adventure Play, R. Bike Trail, S. Pub in the Park, T. Trim Trail

Ashley Butterfield, chief executive of AEPG, the land promoter chosen by Showground owners, the East of England Agricultural Society, said: “We are hoping that Peterborough City Council will consider our applications in June or July of this year.

"We hope to see spades in the ground to start development this time next year.

“We already have operators for our leisure village and a developer for the homes committed and ready to go as soon as we get planning approval.”

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AEPG has submitted two outline planning applications. One is for 650 homes already allocated for part of the site by the council in its Local Plan.

Some of the attractions that will be offer at the proposed Cultura Place for the East of England ShowgroundSome of the attractions that will be offer at the proposed Cultura Place for the East of England Showground
Some of the attractions that will be offer at the proposed Cultura Place for the East of England Showground

The second is for the leisure village and a further 850 homes.

Mr Butterfield said: “There has been a lot of support for our proposals from business organisations, charities and the public.

"The development will deliver 500 jobs and create valuable income for the city.”

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What does the development look like?

The central feature is 50 acres devoted to active family entertainment, sport and leisure, called Cultura Place.

Designed by leisure attractions specialist Greenspan, the creator of Volcano Falls in Milton Keynes, the Showground’s leisure village will include an indoor arena, a court for a padel – a mix of tennis and squash – a two storey, state-of-the-art golf driving range, a zip coaster, climbing wall, bungee trampolines, a jump tower and bounce pillow, mini Land Rovers, a bike trail and more.

The 4,640 square metre indoor family entertainment centre will contain a range of activities from axe throwing to interactive darts, table tennis, a bowling alley, a 12 hole adventure golf and high ropes area, pool and football tables, a trampoline zone and climbing walls.

The village will also include a 250-bed hotel, a school and a retirement village overseen by the Extracare charitable trust.

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The 1,500 residential homes will be ecologically sound and in green space maintained to an ‘exceptional’ standard.

Is there a future for speedway racing?

The end of speedway racing at the Showground after 50 years plus has prompted numerous objections to the Showground’s development.

But Mr Butterfield said: “Even if we don’t get planning permission, there is no way speedway will return to the Showground.

"Holding it here was costing the society £70,000 a year. It was making a loss. Its home was never here – the club was only on a monthly renewable tenancy.”

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Why does the Showground have to be developed?

The Showground has been used by the Agricultural Society since 1966 for its annual agricultural shows. The number of people attending substantially declined from 2012.

In 2019 the site was allocated for development and in 2020 the society announced its intention to leave and promote the land for development.

Alistair Beattie, the society’s interim chief executive, said the proceeds from the sale would fund the society’s educational work.

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