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Leader Wayne Fitzgerald's blog - 16 June

16 June 2023

Our city’s train station and the area around it is going to be totally transformed over the next few years, boosting businesses, residents and the environment.

Back in January we announced that our £48million bid to redevelop the Station Quarter had been approved by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), granting us a once in a lifetime opportunity to enhance a key city asset.

The scheme is one of several major regeneration projects that I’m extremely excited about and we’re already making progress with.

A contract could soon be awarded to a specialist company to pull together a detailed business case and masterplan which are required to deliver the development. If approved by the council’s cabinet on Monday, Ove Arup Limited will be tasked with working on the designs and assessments to support the masterplan and business case.

These plans will set out several options for the project which will deliver a new Peterborough Station and Station Quarter precinct. This will involve gathering data, creating future-proofed design options and consulting with stakeholders. It’s due to be submitted to the government later this year, with construction beginning as early as 2025/26.

The work will see a new western entrance to the station with a car park built – creating a double-sided station – with a new wider footbridge over the train lines. This will alleviate pressure on city centre roads, making it easier and safer to travel by foot or bike. Green areas with biodiversity, community spaces and better connections to the city centre will make it safer and more attractive for bikes and pedestrians too.

The enhancement will improve rail passenger journeys and encourage more rail travel, which will have a positive economic impact on the city, and regionally, as we are already well connected to key areas of East England and the rest of the UK. In addition, it will support Peterborough in attracting knowledge-intensive and high-level employers through its improved transport links.

This is a huge project, so we need to make sure the business case – the foundations of this project – are done right. Once complete, the redeveloped Station Quarter will bring millions of pounds of further investment into our city centre, in the form of new businesses relocating here and private investment.

Last week we made the difficult decision to keep the Cathedral Square fountains switched off. Some people have concluded that this decision was based purely on the results of our social media poll, but this is simply not true.

I decided to run the poll following advice from council officers that it was going to cost around £35,000 to get the fountains working again this year. Their advice was to switch them off for the time being whilst we carry out a thorough condition survey to fully understand what costs might be needed to get the fountains working and reliable. I ran the social media poll to understand people’s views and whilst the result confirmed our thinking, it did not dictate the decision.

We had a fantastic response to the poll, with more than 4,600 people taking part. The majority of people favoured switching them off, however we can’t ignore that many people also wanted the fountains switched on and recognised the benefits of doing so for our city centre.

We will also be looking at how we can invest more widely in the city centre to improve the experience for residents and visitors. This may include the introduction of flowers and some additional events.

Our city’s events calendar is pretty chocka for the next couple of months - there’s much to look forward to including a Father’s Day gathering of Jaguar cars at Peterborough Cathedral precincts on Sunday, from 10am until 4pm.

Saturday 24 June marks national Armed Forces Day and a special event is taking place in Cathedral Square to recognise the dedicated work they do, featuring live music and attractions.

The day will have a community feel to it with a formal parade to start proceedings, before bands and acts perform on-stage from 10.30am to 4pm.

We’re continuing to do all we can to help residents struggling with the cost of living and want to promote initiatives that are offering support.

One such scheme is the Library For project which is now open at Central Library and being run by Civic and PECT. Library For offers people the chance to borrow household objects for as little as £1 per week including DIY, gardening, cooking, partying and cleaning items.

For more information visit https://www.libraryfor.com/

Finally, the next session of Ask the Leader takes place on Tuesday 27 June and there’s still time to get your questions in.

To recap, Ask the Leader gives everyone the opportunity to ask a question or raise an issue about a local matter affecting their lives. You can ask that question during an online session and myself and council colleagues will provide an answer and have a discussion, if necessary.

If you have a question you would like to ask email asktheleader@peterborough.gov.uk