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Eight projects to be progressed through Towns Fund

Posted: 21/03/2022

Following a period of development and review, a total of eight projects will be progressed through the Towns Fund to make sure Peterborough keeps all £22.9million of Government funding.

The decision was made by the Peterborough Towns Fund Board in late January following news that Peterborough City Council had been forced to reduce its match funding due to its severe financial pressures.

That means that instead of £22.9million of Government funding plus £28.7million of third party match funding, the Towns Fund projects will instead benefit from £22.9million plus £19.7million of third party funding – a reduction of £8.1million.

The Towns Fund projects still need to be approved by Government before the funding is secured. This will be happen in two phases, through the submission of project business cases to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) in April and July 2022.

Matthew Bradbury, independent chair of the Peterborough Towns Fund Board, said: “Board members felt that it was better to reduce the number of projects down from 10 to eight, which would make sure those eight projects were robust and highly likely to secure Government funding.”

The Museum extension and Riverside public realm projects will no longer be going ahead through the Towns Fund programme. However, the Museum project remains a priority and the city council will continue to work with the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England to secure the necessary funding to deliver it.

It was also thought that the Riverside public realm works would be best completed after the Embankment Masterplan and Pedestrian Bridge projects had progressed and after scheduled utilities works have been completed.

The Vine project will benefit from the funding released from the Museum and Embankment Public Realm project. There is a considerable amount of work to do to the building to bring it forward as a community and cultural hub and once the council funding was released the remaining funding would have made the project difficult to deliver to a high standard.

The Vine will now operate solely from the former TK Maxx building with little impact on its planned aims and the next door former New Look site will be leased or sold with any proceeds being reinvested into The Vine project.

Following the decision to reduce funding, discussions have taken place with ward councillors who are responsible for Lincoln Road, who recognise the council’s financial situation and decided to go ahead with a scheme that covers the same area with £2.5million of funding, instead of a smaller area. Public consultation on this scheme is due to take place over the summer months and a business case will be submitted to the Government in July with a revised design.

Revised list of Towns Fund projects along with progress:

1.      The Vine – Creating a community hub and city centre library. A professional team will shortly begin work to survey, design and cost the changes needed to the former TK Maxx building. The council is also looking for an operator who will run the building on its behalf, ensuring it breaks even or runs to a small profit. The business case is being drafted and will be ready to submit to Government in July.

2.      River Nene Pedestrian Bridge – The pedestrian bridge will link the Embankment with Fletton Quays. A business case will be submitted to Government in July with a proposed design and full costings for the scheme.

3.      Station Quarter – Working with partners Network Rail and LNER towards a bid for Levelling Up Fund funding that is being made in the Spring to secure £50million of funding.

4.      Lincoln Road upgrade – Revitalising the public realm along the road to improve perception of the space as well as reducing traffic flow and helping to boost the local economy. Ward councillors have agreed the scope of the revised scheme, which will include the same length of road. Public consultation will take place over the summer. The business case is being drafted and will be ready to submit to Government in July.

5.      Embankment Masterplan – This is a plan for a welcoming green and accessible place at the Peterborough Embankment. Public consultation took place in the autumn and winter of 2021. A masterplan is due to be published at the end of March.

6.      Lakeside Activity Centre – A new family fitness and sports facility. The business case is written and will be submitted to Government in April.

7.      Green Technology Centre – This is a new building designed to deliver a new and innovative curriculum focussing on green technology. The business case is written and will be submitted to Government in April.

8.      Enterprise Training and Business Incubation Hub – Production of a feasibility study to determine whether there is a demand for an enterprise, incubation and training hub in Peterborough and explore the options. The feasibility study is almost complete and will be published June.

Councillor Peter Hiller, cabinet member for strategic planning and commercial strategy and investments at Peterborough City Council, said: “It is regrettable that we don’t have as much money as originally planned to match fund the Government’s Towns Fund. However, the city, through various other funding streams is still investing £19.6million, not an insignificant amount by any means.

“You only have to walk around our city centre to see what an exciting time it is to live in our city. The new University, Government Hub and Hilton Garden Inn Hotel will be opening later this year and in the years to come we have these Towns Fund projects set to transform our city even further. All these changes benefit residents and visitors and make the city an even more attractive place for further external investment.”

Matthew Bradbury continued: “The anticipated third-party match funding for the Towns Fund in Peterborough is still well above the national average, at 46-per-cent. If approved, this would show that organisations, such as the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and the Department for Education recognise our city’s Towns Fund projects as robust and sound schemes which will deliver results.”

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