North Westgate is the Right Choice for Peterborough
September 24th, 2015
In advance of the Planning Committee meeting on 29 September, Peter Breach, the chairman of Hawksworth Securities plc the promoters of the £100 million North Westgate scheme, has written to Peterborough City Council urging them to recognise the importance of the North Westgate project and the benefits it will bring to the city.
Peter Breach said, “It is very important that we recognise the many benefits that the regeneration of North Westgate will bring to the city as a whole and for local communities in particular. This part of the city centre, almost opposite the railway station, has been derelict for over two decades and its re-generation needs to move ahead as quickly as possible for the benefit of all.
“Our plans provide for a new leisure quarter of the city and are anchored on a cinema complex which will be the catalyst for attracting visitors to the new piazza and the surrounding leisure and shopping activities. They also include an integrated sustainability strategy introducing trees, flowers, wildlife and water into the development, creating an environmentally friendly aesthetic and bringing to life the aspirations of Peterborough to become the Environmental Capital of the UK.
“We have a firm offer from The Light to be the cinema operator in North Westgate. The Light is a major new brand in the cinema world and is actively expanding its operations across the UK.
“By enabling the rest of the development with its retail offer, office space and new homes, a cinema in North Westgate will help create over 1,500 new, long-term jobs and offers substantial revenues to the Council through business rates, Council Tax and New Homes Bonus. The New Homes Bonus alone could bring in £1.5 million to the Council over six years. Overall we believe our proposals could bring in another £1.6 million in business rates annually.
“The views from three major cinema operators, as well as independent research, confirm our fears that the city centre cannot support two cinemas. If a cinema is also approved at Queensgate, it is likely to go ahead before North Westgate, given its more limited scope. If that happens the cinema operators interested in North Westgate will pull out and the regeneration of North Westgate will not happen for the foreseeable future. We have heard the views that there might be other options for the site, but believe me, having carried out extensive viability testing and spoken to many retailers, we can find no other anchor, leisure, retail or otherwise, for a viable scheme – it needs a cinema anchor 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.
“Should we get our own planning permission, we can deliver the North Westgate project by the summer of 2018, with financial interest and committed occupiers behind us.
“A decision about the location of the city centre cinema needs to be made in the best interests of Peterborough and there are strong planning policy reasons for approving North Westgate and refusing the Queensgate application. With only one cinema available it can be determined that the benefits of North Westgate outweigh the more limited benefits of the Queensgate scheme. This is a legally sound and legitimate planning argument.”