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26 October 2004

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Urban Regeneration Company to transform Peterborough

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A government-appointed Urban Regeneration Company (URC) will manage a multi-million pound transformation of Peterborough city centre if Peterborough City Council wins approval for the proposal. It could become the first URC to be appointed in the East of England. 

A URC, headed by an experienced management team, would have greater access to public and private sector funds than if the Council tried to manage the city centre Masterplan proposals on its own. It would produce rapid results with greater cohesion by working to a tightly focused timescale rather than trying to develop around ten sites individually.

Gillian Beasley announces proposals for an Urban Regeneration Company at GPIA Annual Review

Peterborough City Council’s chief executive Gillian Beasley described how the URC would operate when she spoke to local business leaders at the Greater Peterborough Investment Agency’s annual review meeting at The Cresset yesterday (Tuesday 25 November).

She said the council’s cabinet is expected to approve the URC proposal shortly, after which it will be ratified by the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) before being submitted to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for final approval by March 2004.

The Council has already identified “an expert in redevelopment and regeneration” as its preferred head of the URC, which would be jointly funded by the city council, EEDA and national regeneration agency English Partnerships.

However, the private sector would lead the URC and the city council would have no more than 20 per cent of the voting rights, said Mrs Beasley.

“Peterborough is often perceived as being on the periphery of the Eastern Region,” she said. “We want to achieve regional significance and attract funding from various sources through a tightly-focused URC that will bring about the transformation of the city centre.”

Earlier this year the city council published ambitious re-development proposals for ten sites in the city centre. The plans include 85,000 sq m (915 million sq ft) of new shopping, 48,000 sq m (516,480 sq ft) of new leisure and cultural facilities, 111,000 sq m (1.2 million sq ft) of offices and other workspace, and 2,500 new city centre homes for almost 6,000 people.

Mrs Beasley described how significant progress is already being achieved. Queensgate Centre owners Morley Fund Management and specialist developer Hammerson are expected to start public consultations on a major expansion of shopping facilities in the North Westgate area in February.

Meanwhile, EEDA has already bought over 60 per cent of the land needed for re-development of the South Bank of the River Nene, which is earmarked for high quality homes, flagship offices, a conference hotel, workspaces and cultural and leisure activities.

The Council is also talking to Network Rail about re-development of Peterborough railway station to create a new, dynamic ‘gateway’ to the city and first proposals may be published in the next few months, said Mrs Beasley.

GPIA chief executive Gloria Milne urged local business leaders to give wholehearted support to the council’s plans. “The URC offers an opportunity for real joined-up thinking about Peterborough’s future,” she said. “It may challenge us to step outside our ‘comfort zones’ but now is the time to change and inject some ‘can-do’ culture.”

December 2003




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