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Council leader hosts walking tour of city centre for combined authority mayor

12 December 2023

Council leader Mohammed Farooq met up with the Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Dr Nik Johnson, yesterday (Monday 11 December) for a walkabout of the city centre. 

Councillor Farooq, who took over as leader of the council on 1 November, has been working closely with the combined authority and Dr Nik in his first few weeks and wanted to personally show him a number of the key regeneration sites in the city centre and talk about his priorities for Peterborough.

These priorities include tackling homelessness and supporting people to leave the streets for good, aspirations for a larger market offering in the city centre, making greater use of the Guildhall in Cathedral Square, and developing the city’s cultural offering, positioning Peterborough as a place to visit and spend time.

The tour included Bridge Street and Cathedral Square, as well as Broadway and Central Library, where central government Towns Fund money will be used to provide a city centre hub, to be known as The Vine. Visitors will be able to enjoy a refurbished community space where they can borrow books, buy from independent traders, learn new skills as well as make use of business and educational offerings.

They also visited the regeneration scheme at Northminster, the former market site, where £14m CPCA funding has been used to redevelop the site into more than 350 private affordable homes, and the area known as North Westgate, which is identified for regeneration.

Cllr Farooq also spoke to Dr Nik about the station quarter redevelopment, which is progressing thanks to £48m Levelling Up Funding that has been secured by the council and the combined authority.

Dr Nik also promised to support the city council in its plans to develop and enhance the council’s cultural offering.

Councillor Farooq said: “I would like to thank Dr Nik for taking time out of his busy schedule to spend the morning with me, hearing more about our plans for the city centre as well as the wider city.

“It was clear that our thinking is aligned in so many areas, and there is a huge amount of support from the combined authority for the areas that we know we need to focus on, particularly in relation to the transformation of the city centre, by regenerating key sites such as the station quarter and North Westgate, tackling issues such as homelessness, and giving people even more of a reason to visit our city centre and the wider city.

“Our relationship with the CPCA is vitally important for Peterborough as it provides both expertise and funding to help deliver many of our priorities. Dr Nik made it very clear that he wants to support our city, not only through financial grants, but by standing up with me and many others who are banging the drum for Peterborough.

“I am pleased that we are now establishing a new, more positive and more productive relationship which will reap rewards for our city.”

Two weeks ago, the combined authority board agreed that the council will receive £200,000 to progress plans for a new electric bus depot in Peterborough.

The council wants to relocate the bus depot from its current site in Millfield to a fit for purpose site capable of enabling a fully electrified bus fleet, which will benefit the city for years to come and help us become a net zero carbon city by 2030.

The CPCA’s Medium Term Financial Strategy also includes plans to invest millions of pounds into Peterborough next year. Included is:

  • £5m from the Strategic Growth Fund to help develop critical infrastructure for ARU Peterborough.
  • £3m to upgrade the A1139 Fletton Parkway.
  • £6.5m to commission an outline business case for the A16 Norwood project, unlocking a 2,945 home development site.

There will also be more money for Peterborough for active travel schemes, road safety and bus stop infrastructure and projects to ensure the city can deliver on its net zero goals.

Mayor Nik Johnson said: “I was grateful for the time with Cllr Farooq, and appreciated the opportunity to hear about his ambitions for Peterborough. It’s very encouraging to be dealing with a council leader who puts their city first, who can see its vast potential, and who clearly understands how much can be achieved by being an effective member of the combined authority.”