Embankment masterplan ‘will be independent’ as funding approved

Funding for a new Embankment masterplan has been approved with the leader of Peterborough City Council promising that the process will be “independent”.

By Joel Lamy
Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 1:47 pm
Posh want to build a new stadium on the Embankment
Posh want to build a new stadium on the Embankment

Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald said there was not a divide between himself and Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Dr Nik Johnson after the latter had previously stated he could not support funding for the masterplan if it delivered a new Peterborough United stadium on the green space.

Dr Johnson did not speak at Wednesday’s board meeting as the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority - the mayoral body he leads - unanimously approved £100,000 to help kickstart the masterplan.

Instead, it was left to Conservative Cllr Fitzgerald, who is deputy mayor of the combined authority, to insist that the masterplan will be independent.

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He said: “Needless to say I will be supporting this. Not only is it great news for Peterborough and the city council but the wider area.

“There is a lot of growth in Peterborough and this is just the next step on the road to that.

“And I want to make perfectly clear, despite any press speculation, this is for the benefit of the city and no business or individual connected to this grant funding.

“It is for a master-planning appraisal which is independently derived and will advise and inform future thinking on what is a very key piece of real estate right in the heart of the city centre.”

He later said to the mayor: “We are a team, are we not. We are not divided despite press speculation.”

Cllr Fitzgerald was referring to previous quotes from the Labour and Co-operative head of the county who said last week: “If this money is directly going to the football club to build on the Embankment I will struggle to support it. I won’t vote for it so it will struggle to go through.

“If unfortunately me and Wayne are at loggerheads I will have to live with that and Wayne will have to live with that.”

Cllr Fitzgerald has supported Peterborough United’s ambition to open a new multi-purpose stadium on the Embankment which, subject to planning approval, could open in the next couple of years.

The council and Posh have signed a Memorandum of Understand which states: “PUFC has indicated its preference for a site to the west of Frank Perkins Parkway on the River Nene Embankment for its proposals, however, should this site not be acceptable for development for whatever reason, PUFC would consider exploring such a development on the site east of the Embankment before committing resources to design, development and planning.”

The council’s Labour group has opposed having Posh move from London Road to the Embankment, while campaigners have also argued that putting a stadium there would lead to a loss of green space, compounded by the nearby delivery of the new Peterborough university.

Posh co-owner Stewart Thompson has previously insisted that building the new stadium on the Embankment would make the site “more accessible and desirable to residents”.

Funding for the masterplan - which has long been called for - will also include £200,000 from the Government’s Towns Fund.

The process is expected to begin next month and finish in December.

Moreover, the combined authority on Wednesday approved £603,000 of funding for phase three of the Peterborough university project which is currently subject of a £20 million bid to the Government for its Levelling Up fund.

If approved, this will deliver a second teaching building and new and improved public culture and sports facilities at ARU Peterborough.

However, due to the tight timescale for phase three to be delivered, the extra contribution from the combined authority will get works progressing sooner with the money later returned back to the mayoral body.

The money will last six months and help to finance an outline planning application, full business case and management resource.