Join us for #PboroMarchForth day

Next Wednesday, I will join hundreds of city residents in ‘marching forth’ for the environment, by taking part in the city’s first ever Climate Action Day.

You might remember that back in July, Peterborough City Council declared a climate emergency and committed to reducing its carbon emissions to zero by 2030. Since then we’ve had a cross party working group looking at different activities, projects and awareness raising events that could help us achieve this.

Our Climate Action Day event is something the whole city can take part in. It’s held on March 4 and we are calling it – yep, you’ve guessed it – March Forth for the environment.

As part of March Forth we are asking residents to make a personal pledge to change one aspect of their daily routine for a full 24 hours to reduce their carbon emissions.

This could be going vegan for the day, walking to work or making a pledge to use zero plastic.

By challenging people to ‘have a go’ at reducing their climate emissions for just 24 hours, we hope to show just how easy it is and hopefully inspire some of you to continue your challenges either long-term or for a couple of days a week over the next year.

There will be lots of prominent city residents and businesses taking part, such as city firefighters, the police, Peterborough United, Peterborough Civic Society and of course, journalists from the Peterborough Telegraph.

And I strongly urge you all to make your own personal pledges for the day and to share updates on how you are getting on using the #PboroMarchForth hashtag throughout the day.

I’ll be going vegan for the day and while I think it will be fairly easy for lunch and dinner, I’m struggling at the moment to think about how to replace my morning cereal and milk.

I know there’s various dairy free milks out there at the moment, but there’s so many it’s confusing and I have no idea which ones go well with fruit and fibre branflakes. If you have any suggestions, please let me know!

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Plans move forward for new Posh stadium

This week, the city council and Peterborough United Football Club announced the next stage in the club’s plans to move its stadium from London Road to a more central location.

As part of a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed by the club and the city council this week, potential sites for its new home include the Embankment and other nearby sites in the Local Area Development Framework.

Regular readers of my column will know about our City Centre Development Framework and how we have ambitious plans to provide our city with the retail, leisure and culture that it needs for the next 50 years by attracting inward investment.

Just as a new University will boost our cultural offerings and a transformed train station with better pedestrian access into the city centre will improve our connectivity, a new stadium for the Posh would benefit our whole city.

Our shared vision is to create a new home for Posh that has everything it needs to sustain its playing at a higher level and to work its way through the leagues over the coming years. This new state-of-the-art stadium would also be designed to be used for conferences, concerts, exhibitions and events, which in turn will attract new business, tourism and investment to Peterborough.

Already the club brings in over £7million of revenue to our city each year, boosting our tourism, creating local jobs and improving the health and wellbeing of over 1,000 young people from our communities each week. A new stadium would only increase the benefits for city and residents.

We will now be working closely with the football club to find a suitable location and next steps to achieve this shared aim – watch this space for further updates!

Signing on the pitch

 

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Plans for a new Northminster

At the moment it seems there is not a week that goes by without there being progress on the redevelopment of our city centre.

Last week plans for the new university were unveiled to the public at the cathedral and just before that we announced that investors are being sought for a revamp of the train station and surrounding land to create a new gateway into the city centre.

This week we announced plans to breathe new life into the Northminster area which includes the City Market, the multi-storey car park which is currently being demolished and Laxton Square.

Northminster is an important part of our city centre but it doesn’t receive the investment and number of visitors it should do currently. Many of the buildings were constructed during the 1970s and are showing their age and a number of restaurant and leisure related businesses have closed down.

We know that without regeneration and investment the area will not improve and we have to do something about it.

We don’t have the money to redevelop the site ourselves, so we’re proposing to transfer it to the Peterborough Investment Partnership (PIP).

The council set up the PIP in 2015 and it has led the transformation of Fletton Quays from a derelict, brownfield site to a scheme which includes office space, apartments and a car park, with a Hilton hotel and a gin and whiskey distillery visitor attraction on its way.

The PIP has done a fantastic job at Fletton Quays and the announcement of plans for a Government hub and the construction of a Hilton hotel are the most recent signs of its success.

Initially it would prepare a concept scheme for the site with a view to securing outline planning approval and attracting private sector development interest and investment.

I know that some readers will be concerned about what this means for our market.

Naturally, the market traders would need to vacate the existing site whilst any redevelopment was taking place, but during this time we would look to provide a market from another location.

market northminster

Going forward, there could be a market on the Northminster site or elsewhere but with plans being at a very early stage it is too soon to speculate.

The existing market is 57 years old and in need of modernisation or replacement. This investment in Northminster will one way or another allow us to achieve that.

This is an exciting time for Peterborough. Our city is thriving and we are ready to work with investors and our communities to drive forward the next stage in Peterborough’s growth.

The next four years will be crucial to delivering a Peterborough that’s an even better place to work, live and play for the next 50 to 100 years. (more…)

Peterborough’s high street declared UK’s most thriving

At a time when many high streets up and down the country are struggling, I was pleased to learn that here in Peterborough we’re bucking the national trend.

Our high street has actually grown by one-per-cent. Yes, I know this doesn’t seem like a massive rise, but due to the changing shopping habits of consumers and the rise of internet shopping, this is quite an achievement in today’s world.

AskTraders which completed the study went on to declare Peterborough as having the No.1 thriving high street by comparing cities based on retail growth, bank openings and number of ATMs.

Bridge street

We know our visitor dwell times (the amount of time people stay in our city centre) is 101 minutes, that’s much better than the UK benchmark of 73 minutes.

And it seems businesses agree with this vote of confidence and are investing in our city at an unprecedented rate – which wouldn’t be happening if they didn’t think they could get their money back.

Not only has John Lewis recently unveiled its £21million revamp – the largest spend on any John Lewis store nationally in 2019, but work will soon begin on a £60million extension to Queensgate, which will deliver a state of the art 10 screen Empire Cinema and the Draper’s Arms refurbishment is due to finish next month.

We also had plenty of new store openings last year, with a good mix of large and small chains and independents, like Deichmann, Swarovski, Tap & Tandoor, Hayes Travel and Bean Around BE.AR coffee shop.

Yes, we have discount stores, coffee shops and vape shops, but if you look at where people are spending their money, that’s what they want.

My point is that I believe high streets will always have a part to play, but they need to change with the times and deliver what their shoppers want in order to stay successful.

And there could be more good news on the way for Peterborough’s high street in the form of a Business Improvement District (BID) later this year.

We are currently asking businesses if they would like to set up a BID and so far we’ve had 141 responses from businesses – 67 per cent want it to happen, with the rest saying they don’t mind and only one respondent saying no.

If it goes ahead it will be business led and could potentially release up to £1.75million over five years for investment in the city, which could be spent on things like additional summer events to boost footfall, more floral displays and extra security in the evenings in the city centre.

If any business would like to be involved please complete the business survey. (more…)