Relocating business shuts doors at Laxton Square - and laments lack of city centre toilets

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MD Coffee as it looked before Northminster was redeveloped

Deborah Sattari, husband Masoud and son Ali closed MD Coffee on Laxton Square on Saturday, before the premises is demolished. They have a new location planned which they hope to enter later this year.

But in the past few months they have been watching what has been going on around them at Northminster with dismay, with a building site virtually encircling the cafe which they had run for 15 years. 

Meanwhile across the road dozens of people have been queuing daily to get their passports renewed; with Covid making many people uneasy about planning their holidays too early, many are now facing  a race against time to get everything in place.

The queues have sometimes persisted for hours, and the Sattaris have been letting those waiting use their staff toilet - simply because there are so few public facilities in the city, with the ones at the market long gone.

With TruGym and Coyotes now boarded up, and the Solstice completely levelled, it's another closure while the area waits for the construction of 315 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, across ten storeys.

Soon of course the passport office itself will relocate to its new site on London Road - but that does not help those queuing in the immediate future.

Deborah said: "We shut on Saturday and there's now nowhere for people to go to the toilet close by. There are people coming from Liverpool, Portsmouth, across the country to get their passports - this doesn't put our city in a good light.

"We have watched them and people are suffering. The lack of toilets in the city is discriminatory, against elderly people and disabled people and young children. 

"I certainly don't want people to feel sorry for us  - I'm concerned about those people queuing who have nowhere to go. The staff at the passport office have been brilliant and it's well organised - but where do these people go?"

The lack of toilets in the city centre has been a longstanding issue; such is the lack of provision that a campaign has been created to fundraise for a new Changing Places toilet block for those with disabilities 

When MV Coffee moved to Laxton Square the area was surrounded by high hedges which were not exactly welcoming, but once these were replaced by planters and flower beds it became a meeting point for those having their lunch.  

The building itself will be one of the final structures to be demolished this week alongside the market foodhall, which is relocating to Bridge Street this summer.

MD Coffee, meanwhile, is also relocating to a more central location, one which has been dormant since last year when the previous occupants - another well-known Peterborough family business - closed its doors.

Deborah said: "We are chuffed that we have purchased the old JW D'arcy's Premises, although quite a lot needs to be done there and we are waiting to get builders in. 

"As lovely as it is, it's an old building and needs to be brought up to the 21st Century. So there is currently no opening date.

"Our contract finished in January and we have been operating month by month since then.

"We hoped that we would go on until the summer and continue to come back from Covid because people love to come and sit for a coffee. However people can't see our shop now, and the yellow hoarding that's gone up was the final straw for us. 

"We had been told years ago that the multi-storey car park would be pulled down but it was in poor shape anyway, and wasn't maintained. There were also not enough people going to the market, any trader will tell you that.

"But I have heard some terrible stories from them - many didn't feel they had a voice and that there was no process of consultation."

Members of the council attended a series of meetings with traders last June, when leader Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald promised a 'dynamic future' for those on the site. 

Earlier this year three new ‘Gondolas’ which will house market traders in Bridge Street were approved by city council planners despite a debate over the design.