The city is divided into two camps. One is in favour of a new stadium for Posh on the Embankment, the other is opposed to such a large building on this riverside open space.
This looks like a simple black and white issue; Peterborough can have a modern stadium on the Embankment or a green space but not both. But is it that simple?
There are other scenarios whereby you can have both. The one which would surely meet with the fans’ approval is for a 21st Century stadium on the London Road site, the home of The Posh for the last 87 years. The current owners say it isn’t viable but it can be done given the same level of commitment and cooperation between the PUFC owners and the Peterborough City Council.
They have a legal agreement, called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), in place, signed on 31st March 2021 where the Council pledge to help the club in their plans to build a new stadium. All that needs to be changed are any references to the ‘Embankment site’ to ‘London Road’!
It is possible to create a modern stadium-cum-arena to fulfil all the functions promised in the clubs latest ideas for the Embankment on the existing ground. It would need the additional of land and properties on the London Road frontage. However, one of these properties, owned by the City Council is earmarked for development. This is a very serious mistake.
The City Council’s Director of Resources, Peter Carpenter, has announced that the ‘gravel car park, which sits between the Posh ticket office and London Road is to be developed by the council through Medesham Homes for housing.
If built this scheme would scupper any chance of transforming the historic home of our football club into a stadium fit for a future in the upper echelons of English football. For the sake of a dozen or so semis the club could be condemned to put up with a make-do stadium or even worse a life on an edge of town industrial estate location.
There is a real possibility that the Embankment scheme may not come about. There are many obstacles in its way. There should be a plan B. There are no other sites close to the city centre which are of low enough commercial value to make a new stadium financially feasible. Sites such as on the industrial land at Fengate/Oxney Road might be cheap enough but even that is debatable.
Bear in mind the club is banking on the future receipts from the sale of the Posh ground to finance the enormous costs of a completely new stadium. This means that the value of land needed for the new stadium has to be much lower than that of the current ground. Only land not designated for development fits the bill which means open space or farmland.
The option of developing a transformed stadium, using the most modern parts of the London Road Ground, and building from scratch the north and west stands must be kept alive. The plan to build houses on the gravel car park should be put on ice so that this option can still be pursued.
Options must be kept open until a decision has been made on the future of whole Embankment area, of how it is to be regenerated or left much as it is. There is a major planning process about to get underway to produce a Master Plan for the Embankment in which the public will be involved. We should all await the outcome of this exercise and that includes the City Council and Peterborough United.
[Nb Mr Mehmed is a member of Peterborough Civic Society but is writing this letter in a personal capacity]