John Clare Garden

08:17 Wednesday 11th April 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

ANDY GALL: Peterborough could soon get its very own designer garden, but it would seem that not everyone wants it in the city. The City Council says it’s been offered the chance to buy a garden from the Chelsea Flower Show. It’s creator is Adam Frost from Stamford, and there are claims that it’s on sale for just under £50,000. But some councillors have questioned how the garden would be paid for. It’s been suggested that Section 106 money could be one way, but that’s not on, according to the Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Councillor Nick Sandford. He questioned the Council’s policy on Section 106 money earlier. (TAPE)
NICK SANDFORD: I’m very confused on the Council’s policy on Section 106 funding, because when I go to the planning department, and I say there’s a project in the Council ward that I represent, there’s an urgent need to have some highway improvement, I get told that you can only spend Section 106 funding on things that have been properly researched, that have gone into the Infrastructure Development Plan. But it seems that when the Leader of the Council has a pet project that he wants to put forward, he can immediately just say, we can use Section 106 money. (LIVE)
ANDY GALL: Joining us now is the Leader of Peterborough City Council, Marco Cereste. Good morning Marco.
MARCO CERESTE: Good morning good morning. How are you?
ANDY GALL: Very good, thank you. Thank you for joining us. So, when was the Council approached about the garden?
MARCO CERESTE: Ooh. Several .. many months ago. Many months ago. So it’s not just something that arrived yesterday. We’ve been trying to evaluate whether it’s the sort of thing that we want in the city, whether it’s the sort of thing that would be for the benefit of the city. And clearly, as part of our public realm improvements, which would take us all the way down Bridge Street, down past Rivergate, and then on to the Embankment, it seems to fit rather well.
ANDY GALL: Well Marco, what we could do .. because obviously we need to continue with the debate about is it a wise way to spend this 106 money, explain what 106 money is. But first, before we do that, we want .. can you give us an idea as to what this garden is, and what it could bring to Peterborough.
MARCO CERESTE: Well what is it is a garden that is .. it’s a designer .. it’s a garden that’s been designed by one of the top British designers. Last year he won the Gold Medal at the Chelsea Flower Show. This year it’s the John Clare garden, and he’s designing it for a company for the Chelsea Flower Show. It’s going to cost well in excess of £100,0000. We’ve got the opportunity to have it after the Show, which would be a tremendous boost to us, if we could buy it at a fraction of that price, and also have all the publicity and the marketing and all of the benefits that come with having a garden of that quality as part of our public realm, to continue the Bridge Street down on to the Embankment. So for the city it could be an amazing opportunity. Now the question is quite rightly how do you pay for it. And we’ve been researching how best to do it, because quite clearly we don’t want to pay for it out of taxpayers’ money. And what happens is when you have some planning applications come in to the planning department, some developers make contributions towards specific areas of work that we require in the city. Now we’ve had some contributions made towards improving the public realm. So money that’s been given to the Council specifically by planning developers to improve the public realm. That’s the place that we as citizens of this city use.
ANDY GALL: So public realm is .. interesting language here.. public realm, what does that define though?
MARCO CERESTE: Well the public realm would be you know the streets, squares, anything that the public uses. Areas of the city that the public uses. In this particular case, it was actually even more specific, it was more like city centre. So there is a pot of money that we’ve got available to use ..
ANDY GALL: But some people might say that roads and access ways for places like Eye and Hampton and around there .. some people may be concerned. Everybody’s encouraging great new ideas and being bold, but also you’ve got to realise from getting down to brass tacks, thinking, hang on a minute, there are parts outside of the city centre that are looking a little bit tired and jaded. Is it wise to keep buffing up the middle of the city, and not remembering the rest of it?
MARCO CERESTE: No, you’re absolutely right. We should. We should do the whole of the city. It’s just that this particular pot of money has been specifically identified to be used by the developer for the improvements in the public realm in the city centre. And we do have pots of money, quite rightly, for Section 6(sic), when it comes in, which is used in other areas of the city. And for example, I’ve made a bid to the new Growth Fund in the Local Enterprise Partnership, to have money to do other things in the city, which will help some of the infrastructure and stuff like that. Now we’ll get an answer on that, and that could be as much as six or seven million pounds, which will come in to the city, some as a loan, some as a grant.
ANDY GALL: We are running out of time Marco, so I do apologise.
MARCO CERESTE: Oh I’m sorry to hear that.
ANDY GALL: (LAUGHS) Where have we got to with regard to this garden? How ..
MARCO CERESTE: Well we’ve got to, I think, we think it’s a very good idea. We’re in negotiation at the moment. It would be a tremendous boost to the city as part of the public realm, which the people could use, everybody could use it. And it would be the perfect extension to the Bridge Street down on to the Embankment. So it would be a tremendous benefit I think for everybody in our city, and another way of pulling in more businesses and more jobs which is what we’re trying to do.
ANDY GALL: Ok, Marco. Thank you for talking to us. That’s Marco Cereste.