John Bridge welcomes plans to set out another car park close to the railway station on the site of the former Royal Mail Sorting Office. Broadcast at 07:28 on Wednesday 9th June 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
PAUL: Coming up we’re going to be on the Peterborough District Hospital site. What’s going to happen to it, once it’s knocked down? What are they going to do with it? We’ll find out hopefully, in a moment. First though, a bit of wrecking going on, on the site of the old Post Office Sorting Building on Mayors Walk there, just near the Volunteer Fire Station. There’s cranes in the sky, a massive wrecking ball going on, so we sent Andy Burrows out yesterday to have a look at what was going on. (TAPE OB)
ANDY: Thousands of drivers come this way every day, in and out of Peterborough. To the left of me is the Queensgate car park, to the right is the former Royal Mail Sorting Office. Hard at work on the land is a giant orange crane, one man behind the controls, tearing down the former building, razing it to the ground. It’s a former five-story building, and still you can see, about the fourth floor, an old pallet which perhaps used to transport mail before it was sorted here. It’s a very historic building of course. It would have been a landmark for anyone driving in or out of the city. It’s going to be turned into a car park eventually, and then after that who knows? But right now, it’s a sign of Peterborough’s continuing redevelopment.(LIVE)
PAUL: Sounds a bit noisy. Looks a bit messy. Peterborough City Council Leader Marco Cereste though doesn’t think Peterborough needs another car park. Some though have welcomed the move. One of them, John Bridge, Chief Executive of the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce, Chair of Opportunity Peterborough. Good morning John.
JOHN: Yes good morning Paul.
PAUL: We’re going to get about five hundred spaces from this car park. Do we need it?
JOHN: Well I think the key thing is that clearly what we’re looking at is someone that’s going to actually put some land to use, when otherwise it would just be derelict. The problem that businesses have currently is that with the abolition of the rates relief for empty properties, companies get clearly big bills for having empty buildings standing, and that’s not really very practical in these current economic conditions. So what companies have to do is to look at how they can actually utilise the properties they own, and the land they own, to actually generate some income. But I believe that the car parking is a short-term situation to utilise this while obviously the whole development of that area is considered, of which, I believe, that will be an integral part.
PAUL: Yes because eventually, surely, that will be part of the North Westgate development, should it ever get off the ground.
JOHN: Yes. North Westgate, City West, The Station Development, clearly in the kind of thinking that’s going on, all of that needs to be integrated together, so that obviously we get some joined up writing, in terms of how all that area can be developed jointly together.
PAUL: Yes. No point building shops on it, because we can’t fill the ones we’ve got either, but Councillor Cereste says that we’ve got too many car parks already.
JOHN: Yes I think the key thing is that what he’s concerned about is the fact that that land could be turned into a car park on a more permanent basis. The key thing is that we and he I think agree in terms of the fact that there has to be some positive use of that by the company in the interim, because obviously developments do take some time to go through. And clearly what we very much hope is the owners of that land will engage in meaningful discussions with the Council and the other people involved in the future growth of Peterborough, to ensure that whilst we may have it as a car park in a very useful way in the short term, it will actually be able to become an integral part of new developments within Peterborough, which we all very much hope will happen, in the not too distant future.
PAUL: And this new car park apparently opens in September. We’ll have to wait and see if it’s any cheaper than the railway car park, which is ridiculous. And of course car park charges we revealed yesterday have gone up ijn Queensgate. Hopefully they’ll be competitive and entice people in. What do you make of the rising car park charges?
JOHN: I think the key thing is that from a competitive point of view from the customers’ point of view it is good to have that competition, because clearly it will be very interesting to see where they actually pitch their charges, to see how they do compete. And obviously we’re all concerned, particularly about the railway, and situations where we see railway car parks being increased. Obviously other people are increasing them. I think the difficulty is at the moment that people are finding life quite challenging, and any increases anyway are pretty unwelcome at this time, to be honest.
PAUL: Yes. Well we’ll have to leave it there John. Thank you for your views on that. So the old Royal Mail Sorting Office building is going to be a car park. Five hundred spaces. Will it be any cheaper than one fifty?