Major Peterborough developments ‘on schedule’ despite Covid-19

Completion dates for major building projects in Peterborough are said to be on schedule despite the impact of Covid-19.

By Rob Alexander
Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 2:30 pm

Howard Bright, principal development manager of the Peterborough Investment Partnership (PIP), a joint venture between Peterborough City Council and investment specialists IAGH3, told the authority’s Shareholder Cabinet Committee: “All of our development and regeneration projects are currently on time for completion in 2022, despite a very challenging year due to Covid-19.

“Our focus has been on the two plots at Fletton Quays which always impresses me when I go down there to see the cranes on the skyline and the new superstructure rising up out of the ground.

“The progress being made on the delivery of the hotel and the apartments on Plot One and the new government hub on Plot Two is now really quite significant and the people of Peterborough can at last begin to see the scale and what the final structures will look like when they’re completed.

Progress currently being made at Fletton Quays

“Alongside these, we are now looking to future projects, not the least of which is the plan to radically overhaul the city’s leisure centre providing Peterborough with a new Regional swimming facility, gym, squash courts, yoga studio, soft-ball play areas and a café.

“This is a major investment for the city council and we want to play our part in delivering a leisure centre that is fit for the future and will serve citizens and visitors to Peterborough for many years to come.

“The legal agreements for Northminster were signed at the end of December 2020 and we now can look forward to seeing the same kind of transformative outcome there as we’ve seen at Fletton Quays, though Northminster is a different kind of development for a part of the city that is a little unloved at the moment.

“As we continue to build Peterborough’s future you can expect to see yet more cranes on the skyline.”

The Fletton Quays development on Peterborough’s South Bank will include a new government hub with 1,000 workers, the council’s Sand Martin House offices, a gin and whiskey distillery, a Hilton hotel, more than 450 apartments and retail and leisure facilities.

Nearby, at Pleasure Fair Meadow Car Park in Oundle Road, will be the £38 million replacement for the Regional Fitness & Indoor Swimming Centre, while the PIP is also preparing to reveal plans in the near future on a regeneration scheme for Northminster.

Cllr Irene Wash, cabinet member for communities, asked: “Your report mentions the posted profit of £1.5 million, money the council has already received as a distribution back from PIP to the city.

“Can you tell me what dividends the council can expect in the coming years?”

Mr Bright replied: “Without sounding like an investment banker, future returns are not based on past performance, but obviously our intention would be to achieve the success of previous schemes.

“That would see a profit share from both the Pleasure Fair Meadow leisure centre and for Northminster in due course.

“Exactly what those distributions would be is impossible to say at this stage and until we’ve completed the schemes, but we would very much want the city council to get additional dividends from both those projects which can then be ploughed back into services and developments.”

Cllr David Seaton, cabinet member for finance, added: “I’ve seen Fletton Quays described as something of a ‘white elephant’.

“I’ve looked up the definition of white elephant and it says ‘a possession which its owner cannot dispose of and whose costs, particularly that of maintenance, are out of proportion to its usefulness.

“But when I look at Fletton Quays I know it’s made significant money for the council; it’s allowed us to substantially reduce the footprint of the council by as much as two-thirds which has been absolutely spot-on for the home-working revolution that Covid-19 has introduced us all to.

“So, I would like very much to hear your opinion on a white elephant – and are we at risk, in certain places, of our aspirations not being met?”

Mr Bright answered: “I’m a Peterborian. I was born here so Peterborough is my home and my city. Fletton Quays has sat derelict and unloved for a very long time and, while many things were promised would be done, in my lifetime very little – in fact practically nothing - has ever been done to it.

“That’s all different now – Fletton Quays is a delivered part of the city centre. People will soon be living there for the first time in its history and we’ve set a new standard of what can be achieved with a city skyline.

“While it has made a financial return for the city council – and we must never forget that – PIP was set up to regenerate and develop parts of the city that had lain derelict and lost to the people of this city for decades.

“The number one comment I get from people who visit Fletton Quays is the wonderful renovation that has been done to the Sand Martin House engine shed – a building that had a huge sign on it for years saying ‘danger, do not enter’.

“Now look at it – it’s a monument to what can be done, a beautiful example of what can be achieved if the type of regeneration spearheaded by PIP on Fletton Quays is properly funded.

“So, white elephan’? No, not for me. Far from it, in fact, and I believe in time the people of Peterborough, like myself, will come to be very proud of what we’ve achieved there, and in other parts of the city to come.”