Hawksworth plc Objects to Planning Application for Queensgate Cinema

 September 15th, 2015

Hawksworth plc, the company behind the proposed £100 million redevelopment of North Westgate, has this week formally objected to the planning application for a rival cinema and leisure development in Queensgate arguing that North Westgate is the natural and ideal place for the city centre cinema, bringing benefits to the whole city, including Queensgate itself.

In a letter to Peterborough City Council, Hawksworth objects to the Queensgate proposals on the grounds that Queensgate does not benefit from a policy allocation. In addition, whilst the adopted Development Plan supports the expansion of leisure facilities in North Westgate, it makes no reference to this within the shopping centre. Most importantly, Queensgate’ s plans would put at significant risk the long-delayed regeneration of a whole neighbourhood.

Peter Breach, chairman of Hawksworth plc said, “The current North Westgate proposals represent a vital chance to regenerate a long-neglected area of the city centre and to create jobs, places to live, community facilities and a new leisure quarter. These plans centre commercially on the cinema. This drives visitor numbers to the food and leisure offer clustered around the new public square surrounding Westgate Church.

“Granting planning permission for another cinema in Queensgate would put these plans and the benefits they bring to the city and the local community at serious risk. Cinema operators have made it clear that the city cannot sustain two cinemas so near to each other.

“There is no other viable anchor, leisure, retail or otherwise, for the North Westgate scheme. There is no other proposal to re-generate North Westgate on the horizon – it needs the cinema for it to happen.

“What Peterborough doesn’t want is to abandon the long-awaited North Westgate development by giving approval for a rival scheme in Queensgate that offers far less to the city. A cinema in Queensgate adds to an already thriving Queensgate. A cinema in North Westgate will be the catalyst for the regeneration of an entire district and is the right choice for Peterborough. It would also benefit Queensgate by providing a visitor attraction on its doorstep. This is not about commercial choices, but planning choices that are in the best interests of Peterborough”.

North Westgate has also announced (see separate media release) that it is in advanced discussions with The Light to be the cinema operator in the scheme. It also has a firm proposal from a major hotel operator.
The letter of objection (full letter available on request) states

“The proposals for North Westgate represent significant planned investment (£100mil) that will underpin the regeneration of Peterborough’s Central Core and act as a catalyst for investment in the City. From direct discussions with cinema operators Hawksworth and its agent, Lunson Mitchenall, has established that there is confirmed interest from a number of cinema operators in occupying the North Westgate scheme but this is conditional upon an alternative scheme at QSC not proceeding alongside North Westgate. There is a real risk that the proposal for a new cinema at QSC, in such close proximity to North Westgate, will threaten its delivery and prevent the ability to fulfil the Development Plan objective to regenerate this site and, in turn, the City Centre.

In light of the above, it is clear that the harm to the delivery of North Westgate is a material consideration in the determination of the QSC Application. Consideration must therefore be given to the planning harm that would result by granting planning permission for a cinema at QSC; thus, preventing the redevelopment of North Westgate.
The reasons for refusal of the Queensgate scheme can be summarised as follows:

1. The scheme does not provide the joint and simultaneous delivery of the three elements of sustainability required by the NPPF and does not respond to the opportunity to achieve sustainable development in Peterborough City Centre. It is, therefore, contrary to paragraphs 8 and 10 of the NPPF, Policy PP1 of the Peterborough Planning Policies DPD and Policy CC1 of the City Centre DPD.
2. The scheme would prejudice the delivery of the regeneration and sustainable development of North Westgate which is a priority within the Development Plan. It is, therefore, contrary to Policy CS4 of the Core Strategy and Policy CC3 of the CCDPD.”

North Westgate is being developed by Hawksworth Securities PLC, a public limited company launched in 1988 focusing on building developments. Hawksworth has been in Peterborough for over 20 years and will be assembling this site.