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Leader Mohammed Farooq's column January 25

25 January 2024

One of the biggest challenges facing the council over the next few years is ensuring that we can provide the right level of housing as our city continues to grow.

When I became leader, I promised that we would be transparent about our work to tackle major issues and that is why we are inviting residents, businesses and organisations to take part in a consultation on our draft Housing Strategy for 2024-2029.

The strategy sets out our priorities and actions to meet Peterborough’s current and future housing needs and challenges. It is one of our most critical projects at present, because this strategy will literally define our communities and help us cater for everybody.

It considers our need to build all types of homes - one, two, three and four bedroom houses, as well as flats and affordable properties. We must cater for young people wanting to get on the housing ladder, for families coming to Peterborough, for the vulnerable and elderly as well as the many students as our new University continues to grow.

The strategy will help us deliver sustainable growth and regeneration as well as increasing the supply of homes that people can afford and tackle homelessness through prevention with a greater emphasis on early help.

It will also look to raise housing quality and standards in existing homes across tenures, meeting the need for accessible and adapted housing, supported accommodation and housing for specific groups.

This is an all-encompassing ambitious project which our administration is proud to be spearheading, but we want your views to help shape it, so please have your say as part of the consultation.

The feedback will be used to shape and focus the council’s work with partner organisations and registered housing providers, as well as landowners, developers and community organisations.

The consultation is open until midnight on Monday 4 March and can be accessed at www.peterborough.gov.uk

I was delighted but not surprised to see Peterborough named as the country’s best commuter city by TimeOut magazine recently.

This was based on a survey which citied our excellent transport links, affordable house prices and exciting attractions as pull factors for people wanting to work in London but live elsewhere.

It’s great that our wonderful city is being recognised and awarded these positive accolades and it’s no wonder that so many people are choosing to move here, making Peterborough one of the country’s fastest-growing cities.

Our future is bright and the development we are leading and supporting will provide an even better environment for our residents, with our Station Quarter transformation and new University supporting the facilities and skills needed for us to become a high wage economy.

Our focus is not just on getting people to London from Peterborough, but also getting people into Peterborough and providing commuters with the same skilled opportunities here. That’s why the station regeneration is so important, as it will dramatically enhance first impressions of the city.

Next week members will meet to discuss progress and recommendations with the council’s Localities and Assets review, which is determining how best to manage our land, buildings and facilities.

Again, our administration is promoting transparency by publishing a list of the 28 assets currently under review ahead of next week’s meeting.

The review has identified several sites that could be potentially disposed, invested into, repurposed and redeveloped. However, further engagement is required with members, operators of the site and the public before final decisions can be made on some of the sites, whilst some decisions have been finalised and others will now be progressed.

We fully understand some of the concerns that have been raised, but what we are proposing will lead to better facilities for some community groups. We’ve had really helpful conversations with groups and residents and will work to find solutions that are suitable for them, as well as meeting the council’s ongoing needs.

I would also like to thank our property team for all their hard work on this scheme, as well as for joining cabinet members in meeting with the communities involved and other members.

It was disappointing to learn this week that Marks & Spencer will be closing its Queensgate branch as part of a number of closures announced nationally. It is, however, reassuring that the company has confirmed its commitment to its other two stores at Serpentine Green and Brotherhood Retail Park.

Our focus is on supporting those staff who are impacted by this announcement and we will work closely with M&S on that aspect. I am also assured that a good number of staff will have the opportunity to transfer to other M&S stores, thereby limiting redundancies.

We continue to work closely with Queensgate and others to attract new retailers, restaurants and other attractions to Peterborough. In the past week it has been reported that Frasers will be opening a store in Queensgate which is fantastic news and shows there is confidence in our city as a retail destination both now and longer term.