Peterborough Investment Partnership pledges more commercial developments

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Mural at Fletton Quays. Photo: John Baker

Just over five years ago in January 2015, Peterborough City Council announced a 50/50 partnership with a new development company Peterborough Investment Partnership (PIP).

This partnership was enabled for the development of surplus land in the council’s ownership to tackle awkward and derelict sites in Peterborough that had proved unattractive to developers.

However, the relationship between the city council and PIP was always intended to go beyond simple commercial redevelopment of surplus land.

As Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “There is a genuine social element to our partnership, providing not only a sound financial return on the public money we’ve invested, but quality property for the long-term development of the city as a whole.”

The first of those projects – Fletton Quays – sits on prime land alongside the River Nene, but has been mostly derelict for the last 50 years.

The mix of landownership and previous uses made it an unattractive proposition for developers seeking a problem-free or shovel–ready site.

Thanks to the partnership with PIP, Fletton Quays now nears completion with the long wait to breathe new life into a brownfield site, finally coming to an end.

Howard Bright, Principal Development Manager at Peterborough Investment Partnership and Head of Growth at Peterborough City Council, said: “Those were ambitious plans for a new company, calling for a £120 million development of 265 luxury apartments, restaurants, a 160-bed hotel and two blocks of Grade-A offices.

“That 20-acre site had been a headache for city planners who have long seen it as a priority target in the city’s growth, but hadn’t been able to find developers able to overcome the challenges posed by the land.

“Five years later, and we now have five government agencies, including the Passport Office, moving into stunning new buildings ready for 2021.”

The purchase of the land cost £2m with another £1.082m invested into the infrastructure of the project, taking the total public money committed to £3.082m

But as Steve Cox, Executive Director for Place and Economy at Peterborough City Council said: “The council has now had all of that investment repaid, plus £325,093 of interest back.

“In addition, it’s received a profit share distribution of £1.233m, so to date this means a return on the investment (ROI) of a little over 50pc.

“By the time Fletton Quays is fully occupied, that ROI is expected to be near to 65% which by any measure is a good return on our commitment.”

Cllr Holdich added: “Fletton Quays represents a new age of growth and regeneration for Peterborough. These key additions to the site will bring footfall, recruitment and investment, as well as opening up the prospect of attracting additional government jobs to Peterborough in the future.”

Looking to that future, Steve Cox said: “What we’ve achieved at Fletton Quays is a showcase for future developments in Peterborough.

“The success of the development has instilled a sense of leadership and confidence in PIP, and others have now seen the wonderful asset that the river Nene running through the city really is.

“The entire area will benefit from regeneration to the old Police Station, and new projects like the new University of Peterborough the new Peterborough United Football Club stadium – these are developments that will benefit the people of the city for years to come.”

Howard Bright added: “With that in mind, we’ve already looked at the Northminster area of the city centre for redevelopment and rejuvenation.

“Again, it is an area with several major challenges; it’s tired and unloved, but the council announced in February that it is set to transfer the land including the market, the multi-storey car park and Laxton Square to PIP.

“The focus must remain on PIP delivering a commercially viable scheme of course, and we haven’t even considered the Growth Development Value (GDV) of the project yet as it is simply too soon.

“We’re still at the early process of transferring the land and there is no development ‘plan’ or ‘scheme’ as such; but anybody can see that the area has huge potential.

“PIP would look to secure planning permission and attract outside development which could lead to the redevelopment of Northminster including luxury apartments, retail and office buildings.

“Whatever we end up doing, there must remain that social element in everything we do. We want give back to the people of Peterborough something that they can be proud of – something for the future.”

“Fletton Quays represents a new age of growth and regeneration for Peterborough. This is why we are committing to more projects in the city like Northminster.”

Steve Cox summed up: “As we go forward and get past this current COVID-19 emergency, the public sector is going have a huge role to play in how we get our economy going once again, and we want to play a vital role in that.”