What next for Peterborough’s Embankment? Senior politicians have their say

Ahead of local elections on May 6, which will see 23 seats on Peterborough City Council being contested, the Peterborough Telegraph is offering party leaders the chance to have their say on some of the biggest issues. This week we asked what they believe should happen to the Embankment...

By Joel Lamy
Thursday, 15th April 2021, 6:57 am
A model of how Peterborough city centre could look with an embankment stadium.
A model of how Peterborough city centre could look with an embankment stadium.

In part one of this feature The Conservatives and The Green Party outline what they would like to see next for the Embankment (Labour and the Lib Dems will feature in part 2).

Debate has been circling around the cherished green space where the city’s new university will be based, while Peterborough United also have plans to build a new stadium there. The senior politicians were offered 500 words and below are their responses.

Wayne Fitzgerald (Conservative):

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It is the majority view of the Peterborough Conservative group that the Embankment should be sensitively re-developed, making it a wonderful destination all year round. We would like it to become a jewel in the crown of the city, attracting more visitors and providing more economic growth and jobs for local people.

For many it’s just a large muddy field with no proper facilities to speak of and only in use occasionally for the beer festival and the occasional event or concert.

If redeveloped, these events would of course continue. We are certainly not saying it should be concreted or tarmacked over, but we would like to see much more happening on the site.

Subject to the full planning process we would, for example, support the building of a multi-use arena such as the one the owners of Peterborough United are suggesting. This would not only improve the footballing experience for all Posh fans in the city but would also allow for more live concerts, conferencing and other family events throughout the year.

All concerns regarding development of the site that have been raised would be discussed in public. Some of the major issues to be addressed are the potential flood risks, the noise associated with live events, traffic congestion and car parking. These would be dealt with as part of the planning process. The public are also encouraged to have their say.

We would like to see at the Embankment’s heart a “green” scheme that sensitively takes in the best of what we already have along the river front, yet incorporates and enhances the natural beauty of the surrounding habitat, increasing the biodiversity of the site.

We would also look to enhance the existing river front and, following the example of many cities, it should be something we make more use of. There would be places where you could eat and drink and picnic in the warmer months, with modern toilet facilities which many people would appreciate and find essential.

I know there are some who will not agree with this vision owing to concern about the loss of any green open space. My response would be that the benefits such a scheme would bring to the city can be overwhelmingly justified.

And let’s not forget that nearby we would still have Central Park, Itter Park, Bretton Park and of course Ferry Meadows, all of which are beautiful open green spaces.

The Embankment is approximately 70 acres overall and, if the site were redeveloped and it included an arena which would require some nine acres or so, it still leaves a large amount of green open space for all to enjoy right in the heart of the city.

Finally, the Embankment today is a somewhat neglected area of the city and it now needs some care, attention and investment. We believe that the Conservatives are the only team that will genuinely deliver this, but only if we remain in control of the city council after the elections on May 6.

Julie Howell (Green Party):

Peterborough Green Party recognises that these are extremely important plans for the future of the football club and the city. We would like to see a decision made that is best for the football club, fans and residents.

It is vital for the football club, fans and wider community that we get this decision right as we don’t wish to see years of rows over a soulless stadium like the Ricoh Arena in Coventry which has caused nearly two decades of problems for the football club and for the city of Coventry.

We also have concerns that the Embankment is a floodplain. No one wants to see Peterborough United’s fixtures regularly cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch, let alone the surface run-off water that could affect other buildings in the area because we have overdeveloped most of the floodplain.

Parking is already an issue around the current London Road site. How many parking spaces will need to be provided for large events and where will those parking spaces be situated? What extra access roads will need to be built and how will these issues affect the residents of East ward?

There are so many unanswered questions and the public have not yet been provided with the full details and plans, nor have we as councillors.

We would like other sites to be considered, such as the Westgate area. This area was earmarked for a shopping centre, although given the changes to retail demand post-Covid this could be considered as a suitable alternative ‘brownsite’ space. The former Greyhound Arena could also be investigated, or we could explore the space on the other side of the Fletton Parkway which would ensure we keep open green spaces and floodplains free from overdevelopment.

In a recent interview, Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald declared Conservative support for the Embankment as the preferred location of the new stadium. However, can the Conservatives really be trusted when at a Full Council meeting in March 2021 Cllr Peter Hiller, cabinet member for strategic planning and commercial strategy for investments, said: “No further decisions have been taken on any future development on the Embankment. The Local Plan…does indeed protect the Embankment from inappropriate development. I can also be absolutely clear that any future development would not be consistent with our Local Plan.” The Conservatives are saying one thing and then doing another.

Peterborough Green Party wants what is best for all involved and there needs to be full consultation with residents once details of the plans have been made public.

This needs to be an open and transparent process that residents, the city and the football club fully engage and participate in.

We want the best for Peterborough United Football Club as they make their final push to get back into the Championship, in balance with the needs of residents in Peterborough.

Getting this decision right will help our club and our communities succeed on and off the pitch.