Mayor’s funding threat for Peterborough Embankment masterplan over ‘commitment to Posh stadium’

Peterborough’s metro mayor has threatened to pull funding for a masterplan for the city’s Embankment should it include plans for a new Posh stadium.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 5:02 am
Posh want to build a new stadium on the Embankment

Dr Nik Johnson said he could not support committing any public funds for the masterplan despite the city council having already announced it would receive money from the mayoral authority for it to be put together.

And the Labour and Co-operative Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough even suggested the move could leave him and his deputy mayor Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald at “loggerheads” due to their opposing views on the matter.

Conservative Cllr Fitzgerald is leader of the city council and 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.

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Dr Nik Johnson, Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough EMN-210715-155610009

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 - is due to come from the Government’s Towns Fund and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

The combined authority’s contribution, if it gets the go ahead, could be £100,000.

The end of July has been earmarked for the project to begin with consultants currently being appointed.

The Peterborough Telegraph has been shadowing Mayor Johnson - a children’s doctor who was recently elected into the top role - for an upcoming feature, which included a leader’s strategy briefing held on Monday morning with interim combined authority CEO Kim Sawyer and director of delivery and strategy Paul Raynes.

One of the items discussed was funding from the combined authority for the new masterplan.

During the briefing, he said: “I’m not entirely convinced the Embankment is the right place to put the stadium.

“Just to be clear, is the combined authority putting forward money for a move? That needs to be very clear.

“I want to support the football club but do not necessarily support the ambition to be on the Embankment - that’s an important point of difference between myself and my deputy and a point of difference with many people in the Peterborough community. It might cause some problems.

“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.

“It might be taken off the agenda.”

Speaking to the PT after the briefing, Mayor Johnson said: “I think the club has to be more open to the concerns raised around the environment and the taking away of green space.

“We have to ask the club ‘what are you doing about it?’

“If the expectation is (the stadium) will definitely be on the Embankment I’m not sure I can support it. It can’t be the assumption it will definitely be on the Embankment.

“The money has not been committed yet.”

The full feature will run online and in print in the near future.