The site could boast new outdoor areas, a swimming pool, cinema, and golf driving range, among many other leisure options, complementing restaurants and cafes and also co-working spaces, should an ambitious plan be passed.

The changes would spell the end for events such as Truckfest and the Fireworks Fiesta, and the need for relocation for the Peterborough Panthers speedway team.

There would also be a need for the council's local plan for the area to be enhanced. Ashley Butterfield, the enthusiastic CEO of Asset Earning Power Group which has put the plan together, says the development will only be for "the improvement of the City and adjacent communities".

An original plan for 650 homes included in the council's Local Plan was not delivering the full opportunity in the boundary space of 164 acres, hence the planned increase to around 1,600 units.

So after many iterations the proposed master plan, to be seen above, would deliver around 650 homes to the north-east of the site, with a separate planning application to be put forward for the leisure offering and around 950 homes to the west and south.

Those are likely to include a range of 'future-proofed' net carbon zero units: affordable homes, Build to Rent properties, private rented, housing association and open market owner-occupancy.

Mr Butterfield said the idea was first put forward two-and-a-half years ago, and would represent a radical change for both the Ortons and how Peterborough defines leisure and residential property working alongside one another.

Speaking from AEPG's site at the Arena, he said: "This is not another housing development - we are passionate about knitting it together with leisure to make it stand out on the map. We're working with the council, Nene Park Trust, and ward councillors, to make it work.

"We're currently in discussion with potential development partners - we need to make sure they're the right ones. This 50-acre leisure development will be owned by AEPG in perpetuity, so it's not like we're coming in, building it and disappearing.

"It's a unique approach to a development. When I met with the landowner - the East of England Agricultural Society - they had a choice. They had 650 homes allocated, but they knew the site was obviously a site for future development for 1600 homes.

"They didn't want to build boxes - this is their land and their legacy. So they wanted of course to maximise on value for the charity, but to leave something special."

The 50-acre parcel of land to the south-east would be earmarked for between £30m and £50m of leisure, the exact nature of which is still unknown.

A few events will definitely leave the site such as Truckfest, but even if the development is passed it will be three or four years at the very earliest before the event needs to move on.

Similarly, Mr Butterfield said that he has consulted with Buster Chapman who owns Peterborough Panthers,

He said: "Buster is cool with it. It costs us a lot of money - electricity, water, upkeep and maintenance - and isn't sustainable.

"I explained to him that I would continue to absorb the costs. He always knew that there was going to be development, and was happy to work with us until it ended here."

In September Alistair Beattie, interim CEO of the East of England Agricultural Society, said: “The end of the three-day agricultural show in 2012 meant that the showground was no longer essential to the future of the Society.

"Our alliance with AEPG allows the development of the leisure facilities and wider site, leaving the Society to focus on its charitable aims of promoting agriculture, education, and rural life."

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The current arena would stay in place, with modernisation, but after that anything from gyms to swimming pools, and axe throwing to lazerquest, have been discussed. The ethos of 'competitive socialisation' - any game or competition that forms part of a wider social occasion - will be a major part of the offering.

Mr Butterfield said: "We are super passionate to build a leisure destination offer - it's not Centre Parcs or Alton Towers and neon lights and rooftop stuff - it's in keeping with the area.

"It's dependent on working with all stakeholders to get what's right, not just for the new build community, but the existing communities and the existing wider demographic.

"There will also be restaurants, and cafes - co-working will be a big part of it. Society was already naturally moving people to working from home a lot more, and that has been accelerated by Covid."

Major issues highlighted by residents in embryonic discussions so far have been car parking and traffic.

The roads around the arena are already known to be convoluted when big events arrive, but Mr Butterfield said: "The biggest concern is vehicle movement, and people will think that at 8am traffic will be congested - we've got comprehensive data to ensure that doesn't happen.

"We will no longer have 12,000 people turn up for single events for an hour, such as for the fireworks, or 40,000 over a weekend for Truckfest.

"We've got to gently move away from those type of events, and it will be for the betterment for the area.

"There are lots more facts to come out in the consultation - one is that people will say that it's a loss of open space, but actually there is not open space because at the moment people have to come through security to get here. Upon completion of development, this fencing will be taken down and there will be a massive gain of open space and play areas."

On parking, he said: "The obvious feeling for a resident might be - there's 1600 houses, two cars each - that's 3000 cars. It isn't the case, because there are many layers.

"Out of the 1600 it is very likely 300 or more will be extra care or retirement homes, which generally have 30% car usage, and most of that is staff. It is a broad statement, but we have done plenty of research into it."

"From our site, the route through Nene Park to the train station can be cycled in 20 minutes without touching a main road. There will be cycle hubs, bus routes, traffic management. Ultimately we're knitting everything together so it works.

"Peterborough has a great opportunity. The growth, the population, the investment in the city, the upgraded rail links, the university - everything is now."

Orton Waterville Parish council discussed the proposal at its latest meeting. Two members - Cllrs Julie Howell and Jo Piercey - had already met with Mr Butterfield representing local residents. They believed the plan had real potential - but with some reservations.

Cllr Howell said: "They showed me the plan and video. It's a mix of housing and leisure, but leisure-led more than an estate. It is very aspirational and how you feel about it is clearly down to personal preference. However they cannot make it viable with 650 houses - they don't believe any developer can.

"So they are approaching the local council and asking for the local plan to be changed. There will be controversy about that."

She added; "The number one concern is road access, and that is valid. On the one hand there won't be any more big outdoor events - no more Truckfest or Equifest, and they do create a lot of traffic - but if you're building 1,600 homes there will be traffic and issues.

"AEPG have an idea that we are all going to get on bicycles, and be very green. You only have look at Orton Northgate to see that it's just cars parked everywhere because that is how people live their lives, certainly at the moment.

"It's a project that will be of interest to the city as a whole and the challenge for us as councillors is that people around the city will have a lot to say, but we're the ones who live here and the immediate impact will be felt by us. So there will be contention."

Cllr Piercey said: "It is an amazing opportunity, but it's going to be a big change for some people who live in Orton Southgate who have been there a long time.

"Also what happens to the shops there at the moment? It's very 1970s development corporation - everyone's going to get on a bus and walking, but I said to them if there's high-end housing you want to be attractive to those who are moving out from London and will then commute in. They said to us that people will bike to the station but no-one's going to bike through Ferry Meadows at 6am every day.

"It is really interesting, but there is a fine balance between local residents and the wider community of Peterborough. It's going to be a fantastic asset if they do get permission but at what cost to the locals."

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