Developer submits plans for Peterborough’s North Westgate

An artist's impressions of how North Westgate could look
An artist's impressions of how North Westgate could look
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Cranes could be at North Westgate ‘by the end of next year’ - but new plans have been slammed as ‘dull and uninspiring’ by the council leader.

The proposals for a £100 million ‘residential and office’ development were drawn up by Hawksworth and a planning application has now been submitted to Peterborough City Council.

An artist's impressions of how the new public square could look

An artist's impressions of how the new public square could look

The council are currently working on their own, separate plans to redevelop the area.

Council leader Cllr John Holdich said the plans were ‘dull and uninspiring’ - but developer Peter Breach, from Hawksworth, said the plans would create a ‘sense of space in the city centre’ which would attract people back to Peterborough.

He said: “People have been leaving the city centre for other areas - we have a global team of architects, who have worked on big schemes across the globe, to work on this.

“They know how to develop a scheme and make it popular.

Cllr John Holdich

Cllr John Holdich

“We are aiming to create a sense of space, with trees and landscaping so people want to come back to Peterborough city centre.

“People have unsurprisingly gravitated away from the city centre to other places - we have to find a way to bring them back.”

The plans from Hawksworth originally included a cinema and leisure complex - but had to be re-drawn after a re-development at Queensgate also included a cinema.

The plans say the new development could provide up to 1,500 new jobs once it is completed.

There would also be around 250 new apartments for the city centre.

Along with the new offices, homes, bars, restaurants and stores, a new hotel would be built, and a new public square would also be created around Westgate Church.

Mr Breach said: “The demand for residential schemes in Peterborough is well known, and this scheme will provide that.

“We also have quality office space, and have already had enquiries about it from big office firms.

“The ground floor will have a mix of shops, bars and restaurants, along with a food hall like Spittalfields Market in London, as well as a health centre, with a mix of offerings including chemists and orthodontists.

“There is not much that has happened in Peterborough city centre for a long time.

“There are well known problems in the retail sector at the moment, and we have to work with what will work well.”

Along with the residential and business areas of the development, the planning application suggests there will be space for public art in the area, as well as water features using recycled rain water.

While there is still some dispute between Hawksworth’s plans and the council, Mr Breach said he was confident his scheme could get up and running.

He said: “We have a lot of the land in the area (the planning application says Hawksworth own 44 per cent of the land in the area), and our plans are not too different from our leisure plans which were accepted.

“I think we need to get round the table with the council and talk about what we are doing.

“Any scheme in the city centre can’t go ahead without working closely with the council.

“If everything goes to plan, we will have more detailed proposals coming out soon, and then we could see cranes on the ground by the end of 2019.”

At the beginning of the year the council unveiled its own masterplan for North Westgate with a completion target of 2023

Cllr Holdich also called for meetings and a ‘closer relationship’ between the council and Hawksworth to discuss the way forward for North Westgate.

He said: “I have seen the plans from Hawksworth, and they are dull and uninspiring. I hope it is not the final proposals. It just seems to be typical types of building and a typical development of its type.

“We need it to be exciting and offer more. We can do so much with the land.

“We are still working on our own plans, and will have an update on those soon.

“We need to have a closer relationship with Hawksworth.

“There is no point in us both acquiring land and property. We need to sit down and sort out what we can deliver, and who can deliver it.”

Residents can view the plans, and have their say on the proposals, by searching 18/01374/OUT on the planning section at www.peterborough.gov.uk.

Cycle ban at heart of latest plans

Hawksworth’s plans for the North Westgate development include the creation of a number of new streets linking Westgate with Bright Street and other areas of the development.

The proposals say cycling would not be allowed in these new streets - although cycle racks would be available, and a cycle route is planned for Westgate.

The plans state: “The aspiration of the masterplan is to increase pedestrian permeability through the site and allow for meaningful connections with the surrounding and wider context. In order to ensure a safe environment for pedestrians, cycle traffic is not integrated in the network of new streets, and cyclists will have to dismount when entering. Instead, cyclists will be allowed to travel along the new cycle path provided in the southern edge of the development (Westgate). Public cycle stands will be positioned discreetly around the scheme. Location, number and details on cycle stands will be determined in the next stage.”

Matthew Barber, from sustainable transport charity Sustrans, said: “It’s very disappointing to read through the Design and Access Statement for the North Westgate Development Area, which suggests prohibiting cycling on the proposed new network of streets within the development. All planning policy and national guidance emphasises the importance of ensuring connectivity and permeability through development sites for cyclists, and North Westgate should be no different – this is a city centre development, with the bus and train stations on its doorstep – everything should be done to encourage sustainable travel, not make it more difficult.”

Peter Breach from Hawksworth said developers had spoken to Sustrans, and would continue to work with the group.

Timeline of the North Westgate planning wrangle

The redevelopment of North Westgate has been discussed in Peterborough since 1992.

Ten years later the area was included in Peterborough City Council’s masterplan for the regeneration of the city.

There were several expressions of interest.

One, in 2003, was from Hawksworth but it failed to secure preferred status with the council.

The plans included retail, residential, leisure, healthcare, parking and ancillary facilities.

In 2007 Hammersons put in a development proposal, but the plans were not pursued due to the economic downturn.

Hawksworth returned in 2015 with plans including a cinema.

However, plans submitted for the redevelopment of Queensgate were also submitted at the same, which also included a cinema.

Both schemes were given the green light by planners.

Mr Breach took the decision to give Queensgate the go ahead to the high court, saying the decision would make his plans unviable.

The formal decision to approve the Queensgate plans was made in July 2016.

However, he lost the case, and was forced to re-design his proposals.

A public consultation was held looking at the new plans in June this year, with 70 people attending the event.

In January this year Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council said their plans for the area were developing well.

Cllr Holdich said: “The next stage for the scheme is to take a period of time to assess its commercial viability before moving forward and develop the masterplan much further and working with key partners and landowners. This is a vital stage, which should be not be rushed.”