Peterborough is just one of a handful of cities that is on track to be the first recipients of the Towns Fund – a windfall of almost £23million which will be used to revitalise the city.
Only six cities (including Peterborough) out of 101 have so far had the crucial Heads of Terms document signed off by the Government. This means that once an agreed detailed business case has been developed for each of the 10 projects, the money will be released project-by-project by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government.
In total, the city is set to receive £22.9million which will be used to boost the city with a wealth of cultural, health and wellbeing and tourism improvements – to make it an even better place to live, work and visit. All projects will also adhere to the city’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2030 and will help the city bounce-back better following the Covid-19 pandemic by providing long-term economic and productivity growth.
With the Heads of Terms signed off by the Government at the end of January, the Towns Fund Board is developing full business cases for the projects. When each is signed off, Peterborough will receive the cash needed from the Government to develop each project.
With a deadline of 31 December 2021 to complete all business cases, the Board is pulling out all the stops to get the first signed off at the end of this month.
The following 10 projects will be delivered with a mix of Towns Fund cash and funding from other sources:
- The Vine Culture Hub – A new library, culture and community hub, located in the current TK Maxx building and designed to increase pedestrian traffic along Bridge Street and to the city centre.
- Peterborough Museum extension – To create a new Bronze Age extension to house the globally significant Must Farm boats which were discovered at nearby Flag Fen. The long- term aim of this project will be to market the museum, Flag Fen and Whittlesey Heritage Centre as ‘must see’ UK and international tourist trail, boosting the local economy.
Activity Centre – Developing a new family fitness and sports facility with a specialist Olympic standard facility including new training/competition areas, family entertainment and an outdoor performance space and room for spectators.
Regeneration and Infrastructure
- Station Quarter – Creating a welcoming entrance to our city for visitors by creating architecture on this 17-acre plot over the next decade that leads people on foot easily towards our city centre.
- Masterplan Embankment/Middleholme – To create a green, accessible place for residents to relax and enjoy for leisure and entertainment purposes, linking in with the new planned University and potential new stadium for Peterborough United and creating footfall to and from the city centre.
- River frontage upgrade – To improve Peterborough’s river frontage onto the River Nene, making it an attractive place for residents, workers and visitors to spend time throughout the seasons. This will include lighting, seating and footpaths designed to maximise the view of the river.
- River Nene Pedestrian Bridge – A pedestrian/cycle bridge linking the Embankment and University with Fletton Quays and existing riverside paths. The bridge will be designed to become a local landmark and reduce vehicle use in the city centre.
Lincoln Road upgrade – Improve the look and feel of Lincoln Road by upgrading cycle and pedestrian paths, creating new public areas and adding trees and plants to encourage people to spend more time in the area walking and cycling, helping to boost the local economy.
Skills and Enterprise
- Enterprise incubation and training hub feasibility study – To deliver a feasibility study for an enterprise incubation and training hub in the city, which could help business start-ups with market analysis, including market trends, case studies, supply/demand, competitor analysis, client analysis and gap analysis and locating property and potential partners.
- Skills in green technology for constructive and automotive industries – Developing new courses for students in green technology motor vehicle/construction industries, with close links to the new University. This will enable more residents to become ‘job ready’ in these upcoming in-demand roles.
Luke Hall, Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, said: “It is great to see how our £22.9million Towns Fund investment will help revitalise Peterborough city centre, supporting it to build back better from the pandemic.
“From the Vine Library and Culture Hub and Station Quarter improvements to a museum extension, we’re backing a wide range of projects which will help Peterborough flourish for generations to come.
“The Towns Fund is part of this government’s mission to level up places across the country, delivering opportunities and prosperity for all.”
Matthew Bradbury, private sector Chair of the Peterborough Towns Board, said: “Since we found out we were set to receive this £22.9million, we have had our foot firmly pressed to the floor to do everything we are required to by Government to prove the money will be spent wisely and to allow funds to be released.
“This Towns Fund cash is a turning point for the city and will be remembered for many years to come in terms of the positive effect that it had on revitalising the look, feel, culture, skills of our residents and economic impact of Peterborough and the knock-on benefits this will have for everyone who lives here.”
Councillor John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “The time is now for Peterborough. The regeneration of the city over the past decade has meant that we have been able to bounce-back economically following each lockdown better than most.
“This extra funding will help us to achieve a vision for an even better place to live, work and play in the coming years and will help us to bounce-back better following Covid-19.”
Case Study – River Nene Pedestrian Bridge
Plans are being developed to create a pedestrian/cycle bridge over the River Nene, which will link the Embankment, forthcoming University with Fletton Quays and existing river footpaths.
The bridge aims to go some way to creating a walkable, liveable city by making it easier to travel by foot or bike into the city centre. It will extend the city’s existing network of cycling and pedestrian links (the city’s ‘green wheel’) and play an important part in boosting health and air quality and reducing vehicle traffic. Its design will offer full access to all and will be low carbon and sustainable to further showcase the city’s environmental aspirations to become carbon zero by 2030.
With the Fletton Quays development closer to completion a safer, less polluted route for pedestrians and cyclists into the city centre is needed. Fletton Quays has extended the city centre to the south and has already seen over 1,000 jobs and 600 new residents arrive, with at least as many to come when the site is fully built out to incorporate a Government Office Hub with staff from the Passport Office, Defra, and other agencies, plus new hotel and leisure developments. With a new University Campus on the north side of the Embankment demand for better pedestrian links will grow further.
Expected to be built in 2023/24, the bridge is estimated to cost £5million to design and build. A contribution of £2million has already been secured from the Towns Fund with the surplus funding currently being sought from elsewhere.
Public consultation on the plans for the bridge will be taking place in autumn/winter 2021.