A number of retailers have shown interest in moving onto a new Peterborough retail park after it was granted planning approval yesterday.
Furniture and household stores Barker Stonehouse, Habitat, Better Bathrooms, Loaf, Sofa Store and Homesense have all expressed interest in taking up space on the new West Retail Park in Maskew Avenue, New England, as has Furniture Village which is nearly at the end of its lease on the nearby Boulevard Retail Park.
The plans unanimously approved by Peterborough City Council’s Planning and Environmental Protection Committee will allow for seven new stores and two restaurants or cafés, as well as 536 parking spaces, at the former Royal Mail distribution centre near the Bourges Boulevard roundabout, which is now a vacant site.
The roundabout and access to the site will have traffic lights installed to control the traffic flow in Maskew Avenue which already has Boulevard and Maskew retail parks located there.
A pedestrian crossing will also be installed near the entrance to the site.
Mary Davidson, agent for the application, said the scheme will bring “many benefits” including approximately 120 to 150 new jobs.
She told the committee: “This will bring back active employment to the site.”
The application was submitted on behalf of Wren Kitchens through FKG Limited.
The councillors were happy to approve the plans after a condition was imposed only allowing for bulky goods to be sold at the seven retail stores, which will alleviate concerns that the retail park could take business away from other sites, including the proposed future North Westgate development just north of Queensgate Shopping Centre.
Committee member Cllr Scott Warren said: “It’s not going to affect people in the town centre already. I think it’s going to be a real asset to the people in that area.”
Committee member and cabinet member for planning Cllr Peter Hiller said: “Twelve years it’s been vacant. It’s now screaming for something to be developed on it.
“One hundred and twenty to 150 jobs is a real positive. The indication is there are a number of retailers lined up.”
Cllr Shaz Nawaz, who works on the opposite side of the Bourges Boulevard roundabout to the development site, raised the issue of traffic in the area.
He said: “My main concern is to do with traffic. My office is the opposite side of Maskew Avenue. At times it can take me 20 minutes from Brotherthoods to get to my office.”
But after weighing up the extra jobs and money coming into the council from the development, he added: “I think on balance I will be supporting this application.”
Committee chair Cllr Chris Harper added: “The city has traffic light fatigue and we need to make sure we get this right.”
Plans put forward by Land Securities for a large new Tesco on the vacant land, which were expected to create 360 new jobs, were approved by the council’s planning committee in 2012 but the development has never taken place and planning permission for the scheme has now expired.