Peterborough city centre survey: The results
1. Which Peterborough city centre shop do you use most?
Primark and John Lewis were the big winners here - but some of the 'other' answers people gave included WHSmith, JD Sports, Savers, Next, Game and Janson Hong.
2. Which shops do you think Peterborough city centre needs?
The people of Peterborough are craving independent shops by a long mile, but would also like to see a Zara, more designer brands, but also more 99p-style discount stores, and two people are hoping for the return of Woolworths.
3. Have you been to Peterborough city centre during lockdown?
On the whole, the answer was a resounding no, people of Peterborough haven't felt the need to go to the city centre during lockdown.
4. Do you think you'll use Peterborough city centre more or less once lockdown is lifted?
Most people will be using the city centre the same amount, but many revealed that they've found other ways to get the things that they need and so won't feel the need to visit the city centre as often.
5. Do you use Peterborough city centre for things other than shopping?
Restaurants are the main attraction for the city centre away from the shopping facilities, but meeting friends and visiting theatres, the museum and the cathedral were also high in mentions. The 'other' answers included football games and visiting the hairdresser.
6. What do you think Peterborough needs more of?
Public toilets and cheap/free parking were the most common answers, but there was a real range of improvement suggestions. Better disabled access (including disabled toilets and disabled parking spaces) was suggested often, as was more homeless shelters, halaal food restaurants, short-term childcare facilities so parents can go shopping without their children, indoor mini-golf and, in the case of one respondent, "total demolition and start over".
7. Anything else you want to add about the city centre?
"Perhaps the local planners should visit other city centres, Nottingham being one, it has two shopping centres, many major retailers plus many independent shops. Huge range of restaurants. Better transport into the city centre and the trams. Tourist information centre in the centre. Peterborough City centre is turning into a giant housing estate. When the university opens, the current city centre isn't going to cut it with the students" said one response.
Another reader said: "Cathedral Square is great but too many homeless. Maybe more events, the Christmas market was rubbish, it needs to be somewhere you want to be. New seating is uncomfortable, I preferred the old layout. Santa's grotto is tiny and not very magical. Not enough seating in Cathedral Square. Covent Garden has street performers and a great atmosphere, maybe create this type of space."
Some said they avoid the town centre: "Often use other retail parks due to free parking. Good to have more evening parking available for theatre, restaurants and maybe evening market in the summer. Something to keep people in town in the evenings."
Another reader said tourism is the key and wrote: "Move all the betting shops, pound shops, pawn shops and charity shops away from the centre and make Peterborough REALLY attractive to tourists! Actively promote cultural tourism in Peterborough and provide impressive facilities for visiting tourists. Revamp the town centre and promote it!"
Town centre flats upset this responder, who said: "The current improvements to Queensgate are about 30 years behind other small cities and the city centre is shoddy and depressing to say the least! The ever increasing development of residential town centre flats is killing our city."
Work is an issue. A reader said: "Lived and worked here all my life. But jobs now hard to find. Greater investment in all areas of work (not just warehouse) and a varied programme of investment in leisure for families and adults."
There is potential though, said one reader: "It’s definitely not the worst city centre and it’s so much better than what it used to be like. The square is lovely and Fletton Quays definitely has potential. Love the use of the old buildings."
"It’s improved a lot over 5yrs. But it does need some sort of bike lane though the main stretch. Especially now with losing a car park and wanting to improve air quality and well being," said a cycling enthusiast.
"I am not a Peterborian, I have lived in the city for the last 44years and love it. Peterborough gets a bad press but we have everything in reach in Queensgate and the centre."
"More events and street culture to attract more people in. It's functional at the minute but lacks its own character and has little to attract me in."
"It's changed so much and not for the better. The empty shops look bad to anybody visiting, as does the empty kiosk in the bus station."
"I don’t think the fountains are a good use of the area around the square. They look scruffy and are out of use most of the time. A floral display would be better."
"I’ve lived in Peterborough my entire life (almost 30), the city centre has not changed much, short of losing indoor setting area & water fountain. We should be looking at places like Milton Keynes & seeing what we can do to become similar to those. A place where people want to spend money and visit. The night scene has gone down hill rapidly. Too many empty units. Try pop up shops, not just at Christmas and Halloween. Small independent businesses on a less rental rate in empty units. Let people use a shop for 2 weeks for example, on the basis of taking 25% of their profits or some sort of deal like this. Keeps the town centre fresh!"