Fletton Quays will have a good mix of homes

It’s no secret that the UK is in the grip of a housing crisis and as one of the fastest growing cities in the country there is a huge demand for housing here in Peterborough. It’s a good sign as it shows people like our city and want to live here.

Luckily we’re already seeing some of the fastest rates of housebuilding in the country, but with our pace of growth accelerating we have to make sure this continues.

So I was pleased this week to hear that Weston Homes has submitted detailed plans for the residential phase of Fletton Quays – 280 high quality city centre apartments – signalling its intention to begin regenerating this important site.

Artists impression of Fletton Quays
Artists impression of Fletton Quays

We’re already seeing great success from the creation of the Peterborough Investment Partnership, the council venture with Lucent Strategic Land Fund which is driving the Fletton Quays development, and on Monday cabinet members gave the go-ahead to a similar partnership to build much-needed new homes.

The joint venture with Cross Keys Homes will build all types of housing including affordable, market rent and outright sale homes. It will be funded in part by the money generated through Right to Buy, where residents purchase their council or housing association homes.

Both organisations stand to gain a share of the profits which will either be re-invested to build more homes, or used to support services for residents.

Along with our colleagues at Cross Keys Homes, we are determined to do all we can to provide everyone with the chance to create the home that they desire, whether it’s to rent or buy.

As well as providing a good mix of homes, it’s vital we continue to invest in the city, and encourage others to do the same, so that it’s a place where people want to live and visit.

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Proposed £600 million fund to improve transport

Last week I shared with you what I think are the benefits for residents and businesses of our proposed devolution deal with government from the perspective of education and training.

This week I’d like to focus on growth and in particular how devolution could benefit our transport and housing.

Let me start with transport, that’s our roads, train and bus services and how we connect with surrounding towns, rural areas, Cambridge and beyond.

We’re fortunate to be really well situated on the A1M and East Coast Main Line. However, businesses tell us that transport connectivity needs improving so people and freight can move around more freely with better connections to the east and west of our city and between Peterborough and Cambridge. Transport delays for businesses can cost them dearly, as it often means they miss deadlines.

If the proposed devolution deal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough goes ahead, we’d have access to a new £600 million fund (£20million annually) to improve transport and infrastructure across the county.

Town Hall

Having access to this kind of money will allow us and other councils in the county to plan road and rail improvements together that will benefit everyone, including people living in the urban and rural areas. In addition, having certainty over the money we will receive in future years will help us plan projects longer term, ensuring we get best value.

We’ll also have more money to spend on improving public transport, in particular to help our rural communities and young people access jobs. Virgin Trains, which runs the East Coast Main Line, is planning to introduce new high speed trains next year which will reduce the journey time from Peterborough to London to under 40 minutes. But we also need better rail links to Norwich, Cambridge and Stansted airport and devolution will put us in a much stronger position to secure that investment in quicker and more frequent services.

If we can also improve journey times by upgrading the roads and having better bus services then it should make Peterborough an even more attractive place to live, whether you work in the city or commute elsewhere, and to invest.

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Give us your take on future vision

In the past three years Peterborough businesses have added almost 7,000 jobs to our economy and our private sector jobs market is now one of the most buoyant nationally.

Only this week we were rated the fifth best place in the country to work by recruitment firm Glassdoor, which ranked towns and cities on how easy it is to get a job, how affordable it is to live there and how satisfied employees are working there. We finished higher than the likes of Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol.

It’s clear that confidence in the city’s future is growing. Only recently major retailer House of Fraser announced plans to open a distribution centre here, creating up to 1,000 jobs.

We have to make sure this confidence continues and that we retain and attract new businesses from a wide variety of sectors, whilst at the same time giving our residents the chance to acquire the skills they need to work for those businesses.

I believe that we can achieve exactly that if we press ahead with our proposed devolution deal with government.

As part of a combined authority for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough we can take on responsibilities and funding from government that will give us a greater say in how skills training is delivered and, importantly, tailor our learning and skills opportunities to the needs of our residents and employers.

For example, we would have control over funding to provide 19+ adult education, as well as the Apprenticeship Age Grant which incentivises employers to offer apprenticeships. With the latter we would be able to ensure opportunities are available in the employment sectors where they are most needed.

The government has also given its commitment to support the review of post-16 education and training. This is crucial as it will allow us to understand what skills our businesses are looking for in their employees and whether our schools and colleges are meeting those needs.

In addition, we will see investment to enable University Centre Peterborough to attain Taught Degree Awarding powers and longer term establish an independent university. Currently many of our young people have to leave Peterborough to achieve their chosen degree which is a great shame.

The result of all this is that our residents and anyone else choosing to further their learning here will be able to gain training and qualifications that will enable them to build a life for themselves in Peterborough. Our businesses will have a wealthy talent pool to choose from.

Town Hall

But it’s now over to you to tell us what you think so that councils and the secretary of state can consider your opinions when taking decisions later in the year. You can read more about the proposals and take part in an online survey on the council website. The consultation closes on 23 August.

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Simple steps to a healthy Peterborough

Every week I read stories in the media about what I should or shouldn’t be doing to improve my health or increase my life expectancy.

One week it’s beneficial to have a glass of wine a day, the next it’s not. Having too much sleep can kill you, but so can not enough – how do you strike the right balance!

If you’re like me you probably find it confusing and contradicting. Our Healthy Peterborough campaign is trying to offer residents some clarity by providing medically proven information and advice on how to kick poor health into touch, by making simple lifestyle changes. Each month the campaign targets a different health issue and in July the focus has turned to our youngest residents.

Improving the health of our children is so important as I believe that those who are healthy and physically active perform better at school because they are happier and more confident.

We have invested heavily in our schools in the past few years so that all our children, regardless of where they live in the city, receive the best possible education and the best start in life. I’m proud that currently more than 85 per cent of our schools are judged good or better by Ofsted.

That’s all very well, but it’s just as important that we concentrate on improving the health of our children so that they are best able to succeed at school.

Exercise and healthy eating both help children maintain a healthy weight which reduces their risk of poor health. A healthy weight can also increase self-confidence and improve concentration, which helps them to learn and go on to achieve great things. (more…)