LETTER: An observation of Peterborough from ‘a foreigner’s perspective - which direction is it going?

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First off, some things you might want to know about me: I am female, 23 years old, and I have been living in the city of Peterborough for 7 months now. So technically I am still a foreigner, but I am not altogether unfamiliar with this city anymore.

I am really glad to have been given the opportunity to live here, but I am also glad that I will be returning to my home country (which happens to be a very pretty, historical town in Austria) soon. And here we are already: My home town and Peterborough are roughly the same size concerning population. But they are entirely different.

Peterborough has got its lovely cathedral right in the city centre, and I have to say it is worth a visit every day and time of the year, also if you have already seen it many times. This is a thing that people living around it and seeing it every day tend to forget. Apart from this 900 years old architectural masterpiece, there is not much evidence left of the historical centre. There is no chance left that Peterborough can be considered a historical city anymore. You simply cannot rebuild what has been destroyed or not been bothered to maintain for whatever reasons. So, where does that leave the future of this place?

Well, if you can’t score with medievalism, you have to focus on modernism. As we cannot move backwards in time, we have to move forward. An overall modernization of nearly every aspect of Peterborough life has to be attempted. This concerns Queensgate shopping centre, which is doing a fair enough job, though leaves still room for improvement, as well as the infrastructure, namely the bus system. And the closure of the travel information kiosk at Queensgate bus station is clearly not a step into the right direction. Speaking of which, also the bus station is in desperate need of redesigning, as well as the train station, which is ridiculously small for a big city like Pb. In general, there is just not enough to do in the city centre. And Ferry Meadows is simply too far away to be even considered by visitors.

Now, there is the project of Fletton Quays which I have been able to observe for a while now, and I would have very much liked to see the finished work. It is controversial, but to my mind, everything that gives the city something new, modern and distinctive (urban beach) is highly necessary. And I also hope that the rumours about a Queensgate cinema will not stay rumours. A dream would be a museum of modern art or anything like that, but we will see what the future will bring.

I was quite shocked when I first came here, that a city the size of Peterborough only has an estimated 2 independent coffee shops in its centre, not even speaking of clothing shops. This city needs to distinguish itself from other places, especially now that it is growing at a faster rate than ever before. If a city wants to attract people, it has to have something worth coming for, and that cannot only be the cathedral itself.

I personally think, Peterborough has got a lot of potential and one can only hope that it will develop, step by step, into an appealing city.

Angela Eder

Peterborough and Austria