The North Westgate Story

This looks at the background to, and recent comment concerning, the long-awaited redevelopment of the North Westgate area of Peterborough City Centre. Broadcast at 07:12 on Friday 10th September 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. Paul Stainton is in the studio. Suzy Roberts did the work.

PS: Now Steve was learning about it in A-Level geography, producer Steve. Suzy, who’s reading your news today, printed out eleven years of notes about it. It’s even older than the Peterborough Breakfast Show itself. Yes! The North Westgate development. We heard yesterday that investors are literally knocking at Marco Cereste’s door (SFX) in their enthusiasm to take on the project. Suzy’s been looking at the background to this, surely one of the most planned developments the city’s ever seen, and most eagerly awaited. (TAPE) (OB)
SR: This is the North Westgate area of Peterborough. It looks almost exactly the same as it did in two thousand and two when I first came to the city. But the multi-million pound redevelopment of this area has been in the planning stage since ninetee ninety nine. In two thousand and two the City Council revealed its Masterplan for Peterborough, which included the Hospital, the South Bank, the railways and Bus Stations, and shooping opportunities for North Westgate. Over the next few years developers submitted ideas for a new shopping centre, including Morley Hammerson who own the Queensgate. The project, which in two thousand and five was expected to cost three hundred million pounds, included making Westgate Church the main feature, with an open square providing retail, leisure and catering accomodation. In two thousand and seven Marks and Spencer were confirmed as the anchor retailer for the development. But no planning applications were ever submitted to the Council, and with changes to the economic climate, dispute between landowners, and questions over the direction Morley Hammerson was taking its business, all went quiet on the North Western front. Until now.
MC: I’ve got people knocking on my door, investors wanting to build, the new City Centre shopping centre.
SR: Marco Cereste Leader of Peterborough City Council.
MC: Yeah Westgate. Actually got people sitting there with like billions waiting to come and build our centre. They’re telling me that if if if they can .. because obviously as you know there’s lots of landowners, but assuming that they can all get together and they can .. and they can agree something, we ought to be seeing a planning application within the next fifteen months.
SR: How did the manager of the Queensgate centre Roger Hutchings greet the news?
RH: We, Queensgate, remain very committed to obviously Peterborough and everything about Peterborough. The city has a great future as far as we’re concerned, and we’re very committed to what goes on within the city centre. I welcome any news that’s positive as far as Peterborough is concerned, and as far as our shoppers and customers are concerned.
SR: So a cautious welcome then. But are the people of Peterborough any more enthusiastic about North Westgate being back on the agenda?
VOXPOP 1: It’s good news for Peterborough. With other things going on they can only do a certain amount. They’ve only got so much money.
VOXPOP 2: I think they’re being a little bit optimistic, quite honestly. Well they can’t fill all the shops in Queensgate, so what are they going to build more for?
VOXPOP 3: Did they say fifteen months? It’s rubbish. They’ve talked about what are they going to do in Peterborough for about the last thirty years, and nothing. What about the river? the riverside is disgusting in my opinion, but nobody’s done a thing.
VOXPOP 4: Well I hope they make a better job of it than what they did when they split up the town and what’s happened. And them that organised it got a medal for it, didn’t they?
PS: Suzy Roberts out on the streets around the North Westgate area with the people of Peterborough.