On the credit side, we welcome the initial and ongoing investment in the Posh by the club. The chairmanship of Darragh, from his initial investment to the ongoing support to the city, is to be commended.
Under his stewardship, Peterborough are back in the Championship and is well placed to stay there with sound strategic investment both on and off the field.
On the debit side, we can see no logical reason to support the club’s relocation to their first preference site – the Embankment west of the Frank Perkins Parkway.
There are a number of, we believe, very sound reasons for these. We are happy to expand on any of the points but, in summary, these form the basis of our total objection to a new stadium on the Embankment.
Transport and parking - Whilst a city centre stadium is naturally good for supporters to either walk or arrive by train, the Embankment location has very poor road access.
The site itself - The image of the stadium cleverly shows the stadium surrounded by green space. This is not the case. On the contrary, the Embankment will be given over to a substantial area of tarmac and concrete. Not just the stadium, of course, but the whole infrastructure surrounding the stadium from access roads to car parking meaning far more green space will be lost than anticipated.
Building height - The new stadium will be the equivalent height of an eight-storey block based on the preferred design which is the Groupama stadium in Budapest as Posh have indicated.
To give an indication as to how high that will be, the new university buildings on the northern part of the Embankment will be three storeys high.
A heritage impact assessment demonstrates that they have a minimal impact on view towards the cathedral, the highest building in the city.
It is likely that the height and sheer volume of a new stadium on the Embankment will have a seriously detrimental effect on view of the cathedral, in particular the fine open views across that very green space for which our cathedral is nationally renowned.
Loss of open space - If the Covid pandemic has taught, or reminded us, is that open green space in the heart of our cities is vital for those of us who don’t have access to a private garden for mental and physical wellbeing.
Simply put, we should not think about losing a large area of open, green space in the heart of our city to a private commercial enterprise.
Peterborough’s Local Plan, adopted in July 2019, includes this policy regarding the Embankment: LP51.
“The Riverside North Policy Area will remain predominantly open for social, recreational, leisure and cultural uses.”
This means that to construct a large stadium on the Embankment would be a very marked breach of the, only recently adopted, Local Plan policy for the Embankment.
We understand a Memorandum of Agreement has been signed between PCC and the owners of PUFC in spring 2020.
This document clearly states that should the Embankment site not be appropriate for development then an alternative site known as “Middleholme” should be considered. This is the 40 acres of land to the east of the Frank Perkins Parkway.
This site is already designated under the Local Plan for leisure and sports use. It is not only under consideration in the MOU but also a clearly more appropriate site for the club yet still within easy walking distance of the city centre.
Finally, and with all due respect to the club’s owners, whilst we admire and applaud their efforts on behalf of the club and, by turn, the city, none of them live in the city. Our beloved chairman is a property developer in his own right and knows a good piece of ‘real estate’ when he sees one.
Do we blame him and his co-owners for wanting the biggest prize which is building on the prime site? bsolutely not.
By the same token, as local people listening to local people, football supporters or not, we are making clear our objection to the club developing that site when there is a perfectly acceptable and workable alternative very close by.
We wish PUFC every success in the Championship and every support to see them develop a stadium to make the city proud. But not at the expense of our beloved Embankment in the city we are proud to call home.
Shaz Nawaz, leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council
* Shaz added: All Labour councillors serving on the planning committee have not been consulted on their view. This was down so that they are not pre-determined and can form a view when they debate the application at a future planning committee meeting.