A vision of the future for Peterborough is being shaped to adapt the city for the challenges ahead over the next 30 years.
An expected surge in population, train journeys to London of about 37 minutes, plus the arrival of thousands of students as the long awaited university gets off the ground are expected to offer many new opportunities.
But civic chiefs are worried Peterborough could lose millions of pounds of vital investment and visitor numbers to other cities that are already promoting themselves as business, leisure, cultural and educational destinations.
Now council chiefs, landowners, commercial agents and others are working on a blueprint that will determine the facilities needed over the next 30 years and how they should all link up.
And they want to know the thoughts of city residents about how Peterborough should look by 2050.
A 20-page development framework created by LDA Design, in Minster Precinct, Peterborough, on behalf of Peterborough City Council is currently being considered.
Its starting point is to enhance the area around Peterborough’s railway station.
It is seen as a gateway to the city that will play an increasingly important role in the city’s offering.
Rail journeys to London of 37 minutes will enable more people to visit the city, or to live in Peterborough and work in London.
The blueprint proposes a large plaza outside the railway station and around the Great Northern Hotel - the eventual demolition of the hotel has not been entirely ruled out.
The plaza leads into a new look North Westgate that would feature a high quality business district with city centre residential use.
A key feature is the possible relocation of the much loved and iconic Brewery Tap pub into Westgate Church.
The plan also sketches out proposals for the creation of an iconic multi-purpose arena/concert hall near the riverside and a link with Nene Park to develop and encourage greater use of the area along the River Nene - including the use of water taxis.
It sees the planned creation of Nene Park’s new climbing walls centre, which it names the Beacon, as a major attraction for visitors.
It envisages the repurposing of the Rivergate Shopping Centre to become an independent food, retail and market quarter.
The current market site could become a futuristic looking office development aimed at small, start-up businesses.
The move has in part been triggered by the latest planning application from Hawksworth Securities to develop the derelict North Westgate site.
Dave Anderson, the council’s interim development director, said: “There is an opportunity for the council to work with private developers to shape a high quality leisure-led mixed use scheme in North Westgate, and improve the gateway into the city from the railway station, taking advantage of the 37 minute fast train service to Kings Cross.
“However, this opportunity could slip away unless the council quickly gets behind a vision for regeneration that is rooted in realistic development appraisal, and based on a thorough understanding of future market demand.”
He warns: “It will be vital that development does not mean one regenerated area simply displacing demand from other areas of the city.
“Given the scale of current and planned development in Peterborough across Fletton Quays, the Embankment, Queensgate and North Westgate, there is a need to plan and consult upon a city development strategy that will chart a path forward over the next two decades.”
Council leader Councillor John Holdich, pictured left, said: “This is very much the start of a public debate.
“I want to know what people think about the future development of Peterborough.
He said: “I am fed up with getting picked off by the odd planning application to develop single pieces of land completely in isolation from the overall needs of the city.
“We need a comprehensive masterplan for the city to take us to 2050.
“We will take comments from the public and create a masterplan that will guide the city’s future development.
“Then we will start a proper round of public consultation on that masterplan.
“If we don’t do this we run the risk of Peterborough missing out on lots of investment in terms of money and people.
“It will also enable us to control the type of development that takes place.
“Companies thinking of moving out of London like ambitious cities and we want to attract those businesses that will create wealth and jobs.
“We need to create the facilities that will make prospective students want to come and study in a vibrant and exciting city, and then choose to stay here after graduating.
“Holding on to our students will also help bring companies here.”
He added: “I genuinely want to know what people think about these ideas.”