The city council is preparing to buy the buildings for just less than £4 million and then use a further £5 million to transform them into a cultural hub for Peterborough. It will accommodate a new library, a community cafe, meeting rooms for council and community use, rehearsal and gallery space for arts and culture organisations, space for new businesses and public sector organisations.
The site is near the Peterborough’s new university campus, set to arrive in 2022, and is close to the newly developed Fletton Quays. Initial consultation has been undertaken with the Towns Fund Town Board, which includes a representative of stakeholders from various groups and sectors across the city and prospective users of the building, including cultural groups and the city’s artistic and creative community.
Groups such as Metal Culture have been consulted about their need for accommodation to enable their activities to grow and there are plans for widespread engagement with existing and future library users as plans are taken forward.
Central Library in Broadway and Chauffeurs Cottage would then be sold, with plans to be converted into residential accommodation once all services transfer.
There has been no confirmation on whether the archives service would also be moving, after significant funds were put into making the current location fit for purpose.
It is anticipated that the money for the project will be received back to the council as part of the city's Towns Fund bid. Peterborough's bid for £25 million was submitted at the beginning of August.
Cllr Peter Hiller, cabinet member for strategic planning and commercial investments at Peterborough City Council, said: "The TK Maxx building is a significant and prominent one in our city centre. Its lease is due to expire in March 2021 and the company is preparing to move its store into Queensgate. Situated directly in the middle of our city’s new city centre which will extend to Fletton Quays and the new university, it is important that we ensure it is not left vacant.
"In addition, the improvement of the city’s cultural infrastructure is a key part of the city’s bid for up to £25 million from the Government’s Towns Fund scheme, the application for which was submitted recently.
"Work is also underway, with support from the Arts Council, to consult upon and develop a cultural strategy for Peterborough that will look at how the city can improve its cultural infrastructure and boost cultural activities in order to build back better post Covid-19."