ING and the Station Quarter

Andy Burrows talks to a man from ING Retail, who are considering coming in to build on the old Royal Mail Sorting Office, near the railway station.

17:10 Drivetime Radio Cambridgeshire. Wednesday 6th October 2010.

AB: Plans have been unveiled today to redevelop the former Royal Mail sorting office site in Peterborough city centre, which could result in up to seven hundred jobs being created. It’s the area close to Peterborough Railway Station. The company behind the move is ING, which is part of a Netherlands banking group. Earlier I spoke to Gerwin James, a Community Liaison and Communications Adviser, that’s his official title. He works for the firm, and he told me all about the plans. (TAPE)
GJ: We’ve had the site for a little while. We applied for the temporary car park usage, so that we could demolish the building, and kick something off there. But obviously whilst we’ve been doing that we’ve had lots of conversations about the longer term vision and aspirations of the city. And we think we can deliver something that can kick start the Station Quarter, and make some significant enhancements to really that sort of public realm around the station, and try and unite it obviously back again to the city centre.
AB: Sure. I say why now, because clearly this is very exciting if you live or do your shopping in Peterborough, but times are tough.
GJ: Yes.
AB: And it’s very very difficult on the High Street. Are you confident that a that you’ve got the investment, because this project is clearly going to cost millions of pounds, but b also got the retailers who would be ready to move into a development such as this?
GJ: Yes. If we imagine that clearly a food store, a convenience store, will anchor the retail element as it faces on to the station, and it is a lot of other cities have typical station-type of retailing, with cafes and other linked retailing to the station, so to combine the needs of the traveller, the commuter, and obviously the local people. And we think that delivering the scheme in twenty twelve, we’re confident that the market’s improving, we’re confident there are operators out there, but also we’ve done a lot of research into what the city needs in terms of convenience shopping. And it’s quite clear that the city centre’s underperforming in terms of city centre convenience shopping at the moment. The business has been dragged out to the very large district centres, and the city centre itself is not now the prime centre for convenience retailing, which it should be. It should support all the other activities in the city cntre, and it’s not doing that yet.
AB:So this would be underpinned then, would it, by one big retailer, and then lots of other retailers surrounding it?
GJ: Yes.
AB: And what you’re saying there, maybe I’m putting two and two together here, but the outer town shopping that you alluded to there in Peterborough is doiminated perhaps by Tesco, which is based at Hampton, which si just a few miles outside the city centre.
GJ: Yes.
AB: So I take it .. does that rule out Tesco as being the big main retailer at your new city centre site?
GJ: We’re going for outline planning consent currently, which means that we want to establish really the uses, and the scope, and the nature of the development. We will then be, once we get that outline consent, then we will talk to operators. So at present we have nothing, if you like, planned in terms of one specific operator.
AB: So this is twenty twelve you’re talking about opening it ..
GJ: What? Yes.
AB: .. can you put a price on how much this could all cost?
GJ: It’s very difficult at the moment, because obviously it’s at outline stage. But we’re talking towards thirty million in terms of a development of this scale, with the offices, and the retailing, and the public realm.
AB: You’re an international company.
GJ: Yes.
AB: So again I would ask you, why Peterborough?
GJ: Why Peterborough?
AB: Yes. What do you find so attractive? What makes you think so many people will invest in Peterborough’s future?
GJ: Well there’s a number of things. Obviously I’ve said we’ve done the research into what’s required in terms of retail capacity. We think there’s a tremendous opportunity, and a huge missing gap in the market, in terms of that location within the city centre. And the (?) itself has a vision as to where it wants to take itself, and we fall into that vision. We can see the aspirations of the city, and we can see it’s passively declined a little from its prime position, as a major regional destination, and we think there’s an opportunity to bring that back. (LIVE)
AB: That was Gerwin James speaking to me before we came on the air this afternoon, from the company ING, which is looking to build that thirty million pound site in the centre of Peterborough, close to the railway station, redevelop it, and build a whole host of shops, offices, car park as well.