North Westgate – Time to Get On With It

08:10 Tuesday 21st February 2012
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: The long hoped for North Westgate development, remember that? David Shaw is one of the men behind it, planning adviser to Hawksworth, who’ve been trying to get this North Westgate development sorted for, how long David?
DAVID SHAW: Ooh, a very long time. Eighteen years. I really am beginning to get a little old, I think.
PAUL STAINTON: I was going to say, you must have been a boy in short trousers when it started.
DAVID SHAW: I was nearly. I’ve been trying to get things to happen in the city centre for nearly thirty eight years. Queensgate did succeed, but with North Westgate we’re not having any success.
PAUL STAINTON: No. So we’re going to have the Station Quarter, which is going to have shop units. We’re going to ahve Maskew Avenue, which is going to have shop units. Go further up, they’re redeveloping the site in Walton, as an M&S and loads of shops there. We don’t need a North Westgate any more, do we?
DAVID SHAW: We need a North Westgate. And this is the key point. The types of units you’ve been talking about, they provide what’s called in the trade convenience stores. So this is where the people in Peterborough can come along and buy their everyday goods. We’ve got lots of that in Peterborough. What we need in Peterborough is more comparison goods. That’s the goods which get people to come in here on a Thursday evening, Saturday afternoons. Those people who actually want to come into Peterborough and spend more money. When we built Queensgate, we attracted people in from a long way away. They came in from Kings Lynn, from Cambridge, from Oakham. That’s all fallen away, because a lot of cities, Leicester, Norwich, Cambridge, have all now got much better big city centre schemes. We need one of those back again. And it’s only by concentrating on North Westgate that we get those new department stores, and those new trendy retailers, those new fashion niche retailers, back into the city centre. And then we get more people shopping here, and our city centre economy can really start. That’s what it’s about.
PAUL STAINTON: Something that drags people in, like Queensgate did before it became a bit tired.
DAVID SHAW: That’s it. Absolutely. We’ve got to get on with it. because what the city officers keep telling to us, and Marco keeps saying to us, is look, we need a city centre plan in place before we do that. The only trouble is, we’ve had over the past eighteen years, I think it’s three city centre plans. And now they’re producing another one. And their timetable on that is that it’s not going to be adopted for another two years. Then we’ve got to start planning again. By that time we’ll be through another economic cycle.
PAUL STAINTON: Build it, and they will come.
DAVID SHAW: Absolutely. We’ve got real experts on this team who are in touch with the market, know what we can do. And although we’re in an economic downturn at the moment, even if we get going today, it’s going to be probably four or five years before it’s open. Hopefully the Greek drachma is long forgotten about by then, and we’re all in a much better position.
PAUL STAINTON: I think we’ll have the franc, the lira and the drachma and the peseta by then. So we’re not going the right way at the moment. We’re not getting on with it. We need to get on with it.
DAVID SHAW: That’s right. I know exactly what Stewart is saying, and what others are saying. Look, here’s someone who actually wants to build something at the station. Yes. Great. But we must must be getting on with North Westgate at the same time. And please remember as well that what’s being proposed at the railway station is actually largely a food store. And quite a few of those people who are employed in that food store are actually going to take jobs from Bretton, they’re going to take jobs from Asda, they’re going to take jobs from Werrington, they’re going to take jobs from Sainsburys.
PAUL STAINTON: they’re not necessarily new jobs then.
DAVID SHAW: Not necessarily. No, much as I’d like to say they were.
PAUL STAINTON: My worry is the traffic issues as well.
DAVID SHAW: Traffic, I’m not an expert on traffic. I was a little surprised in the report to read something which said traffic is at capacity in the area at the present time. Therefore we don’t need to do anything because it’s just at capacity so there’s nothing we can do. That sounds a little .. not the best solution. (THEY LAUGH). .. but what I would like to add is that this current administration in the city council, I do genuinely believe they are trying harder than previous ones. It’s just, we’ve got to find the right direction.