Peterborough plans for 650 homes at East of England Showground go on display

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Residents got their first view of what the future holds for the East of England Showground as plans went on display.

Proposals to build hundreds of homes at the venue were revealed earlier this month - and on Thursday an exhibition showing what the development might look like went on display at the venue.

The development was listed in Peterborough City Council’s Local Plan, and could see 650 new homes built on the site - however, the work would not be completed until the late 2020s at the earliest.

The Showground, owned by the East of England Agricultural Society, is home to some of the biggest events in Peterborough, including Truckfest, Fireworks Fantasia and the East of England Show. It is also the home of the Peterborough Panthers speedway team.

Dozens of residents attended the exhibition to see the proposals, and have their say - raising concerns about traffic, and the loss of green space.

Cllr Julie Howell, who represents Orton Waterville, said: “Overwhelmingly, the biggest issue for residents is the transport plan. People who live in Northgate already agree that the local transport infrastructure is not fit-for-purpose.

“It is difficult to get around the area on foot at certain times of the day due to excessive traffic on Oundle Road and traffic can be very slow at peak times due to the close proximity of the Lynch Wood Business Park. This could be an opportunity to drastically improve the situation if the planners listen to local residents.

“There was much talk about potential improvements walking and cycling in the area. Concerns about the future of the Arena and the Speedway were raised by many of the residents I spoke to, and loss of green space is also on many people’s minds.

“Initial consultations tend to raise more questions that they answer and we anxiously await the detailed masterplan which is expected next February.”

Jason Lunn, venue director at the East of England Arena and Events Centre, confirmed the arena itself - which is located on the showground - would not be affected by the development.

He said: “The Arena and it’s connecting halls, all the buildings and the entire outdoor complex will remain unchanged and fully operational until 2023, at which point it is likely that gradual, phased withdrawal of facilities will begin at the showground boundary.

“We’re delighted that the East of England Agricultural Society and other stakeholders recognise the valuable contribution the East of England Arena and Event Centre makes to the local and regional economy, and how important it is to the fabric of the city and its people. We are committed to identifying a new site with the potential to create the additional capacity and infrastructure required to maintain our competitive lead. We are also committed to safeguarding the future of the venue business, and we are looking forward to bringing conferences, exhibitions, festivals and world-class entertainment to the city and the region into the 2030s and beyond.

“The future of arena-scale events in Peterborough is strongly supported by the City Council and the Agricultural Society, and is categorically not under threat.”

The East of England Agricultural Society have said they plan to move their base from the showground to a new, rural location.

A spokesman said: “The most important consideration is our desire to acquire a working farm, where emerging technologies and techniques can be applied to real-life scenarios, where new crops can be trialled, and where we can provide facilities for people of all ages to visit and engage with the rural world, in a way that cannot be achieved in an edge-of-city setting.

“The new rural home would also accommodate the Society’s staff and provide exhibition/ conference space for educational events.

“We aim to acquire the site for our new rural home in late 2019, remaining close to our ancestral home in Peterborough and close to good road infrastructure to enable easy access for members of the public.”

When the plans were first revealed, Peterborough Panthers Speedway owner Keith Chapman said: “We are in dialogue with the management at the Showground who have kept us in touch with developments.

“Whatever happens, it’s not an overnight situation. I fully expect the sport to continue at the venue for the next few seasons without actually putting a timescale on it.

“The Showground have been superb in keeping me updated and have been reassuring. There will be Speedway there next year.”

The East of England Showground proposals are listed on page 92 of the Local Plan. You can read the plan by visiting https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/council/planning-and-development/planning-policies/local-development-plan/#Policies_DPD_CoreStrategy

To have your say on the proposals, and for more details about the plans, visit https://www.eastofengland.org.uk