The following articles were previously submitted to Peterborough Telegraph, please click on the relevant image to read them.
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Other interesting articles previously submitted to Nene Living can be found on our Nene Living articles page.

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Lifeline for local landmark

Unsung Heroes

Favourite areas to sit outside

City Centre Revival

Rare views of our Cathedral

Converting offices into appartments

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Guildhall,
Cathedral Square

Places to visit
away from city centre

Parkway improvement?!?

Central Park

Let their be light!

Twelves Days of Christmas

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Lifeline for a local landmark

This article was first published in the 17 January 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Kem Mehmed.

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A proposed housing development and Lidl supermarket on the former British Sugar Company (BSC) HQ site, Oundle Road has been refused by city councillors. This gives a stay of execution for one of the rare examples of attractive modern architecture in Peterborough.

I am referring to the glass box which sits on the corner of Oundle Road and Sugar Way. It dates from 1971 and was originally part of the iconic and aromatic sugar beet processing factory which ceased production in 1991. There is nothing left of the factory itself apart from some settling beds at the foot of the slope down to the River Nene. Peterborough celebrates its history and cherishes evidence of life from the Bronze Age to its New Town status. However this care for the past does not seem to stretch to a regard for working buildings such as factories, warehouses and offices. Apart from a few early railway era sheds and the odd mill or two there is not much evidence of what Peterborough people did with their working lives through the centuries. Not a single brick kiln or chimney remains standing in the city limits.

The BSC office was designed by Arup Associates, world leaders in urban design and winners of many architectural awards, one of which was achieved for this building in 1975. The body which seeks to protect the nation's twentieth century architectural heritage, the 20th Century Society has been in touch. They say;

"The design featured the most up-to-date environmental technology, using a double skin which fulfilled the brief for noise reduction and also featured a buffer against external temperature change. The waste air was re-circulated in the space to assist this and to prevent condensation during the heating season, a pioneering approach experimented with as a prototype for the contemporary IBM building in Johannesburg, also designed by Arups.

The design won a commendation in the 1975 RIBA regional awards, the judges concluding that 'the architects' masterly control is everywhere in evidence. All the elements making up this building are skilfully integrated to a degree of precision which is difficult to achieve without the resources of a multi-disciplinary organisation. Externally the building is appropriately eye-catching and attractively landscaped.

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The 20th Century Society therefore considers this building to be of considerable interest for its innovation and design and that its destruction would be a great loss to Peterborough's twentieth century architectural heritage."

Buildings of this type are adaptable to alternative uses and to good effect. There is no adequate reason to doubt that the building remains fit for purpose and could therefore be re-purposed. It would be possible to retain the glass box and hexagonal foyer block and still leave room to build the supermarket much as set out in the developer's own plans. The retained buildings could be used for offices or subdivided internally as 'start-up' business units. Community uses, should a need arise in the neighbourhood, might also be considered (see our illustrated drawing).

The Civic Society is investigating the possibility of getting Listed Building protection but without the support of public opinion to add to that of the experts we should not build up our hopes. Please let us know how you feel and we will do our best to see that this local landmark lives on.

Update: Following the application from the Society to Historic England that this building be added to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, we were delighted to learn on 25 January 2019 that after their assessment and recommendation to the Secretary of State that the building should be listed, that it is now listed at Grade II.

Further update: Sadly our delight in receiving the news that this local landmark had been listed was turned to dismay when we received news on 19 July 2019 that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport had overturned the decision to list, giving arguments which we were unable to counter, and sadly the building is now due to be demolished for a supermarket. What an ignominious end.

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Unsung heroes

This article was first published in the 21 February 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Kem Mehmed.

With so many negative things happening in the world in general it's sometimes easy to overlook the positive side of life. So let me take the opportunity to thank and praise people.

Much has been spoken and written about Peter Boizot who was the embodiment of the notion of giving something back to the community. Peter and his contribution to the city should never be forgotten so our civic leaders should consider how best to commemorate his achievements. Perhaps recognition at the new Peterborough University may be suitable - a building or faculty could be named after him. And Peterborough United should consider a long-lasting tribute, perhaps by naming a stand, area or room in any new ground or facility. Better still, Peter used his money to fund projects across the city that bridged arts sports and entertainment. So what better way to honour him than to name a new bridge after him! BBB - Build the Boizot Bridge!

As part of publicising the Civic Society's blue plaque scheme, I have been asked to speak to a wide variety of groups who are interested in what the society has done so far and what is planned for the future. Consequently I have talked to a wide variety of community groups, Rotary clubs, U3A groups, social clubs and Women's Institutes all over the city. As I travel round Peterborough I am constantly amazed at just how vibrant they are. Invariably many of these groups consist of older people who are always welcoming, courteous and full of live and zest. They also meet in rooms and halls that are clean, tidy, well-looked after and usually bright. These groups provide a focus for people as well as companionship and are vital voluntary networks which help to support, care and watch out for their members. Without these groups the incidence of loneliness and isolation would undoubtedly grow.

It would invidious to name these groups individually but I would like to recognise their contribution to Peterborough life. You all know who you are!

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Another specific group I would like to say thank you to is that little group of litter pickers/rubbish collectors that patrol our city centre. I often see Peterborough's very own gilet jaunes (without the revolutionary bit) quietly getting on with the job of trying to keep up with the seemingly never-ending task of keeping the streets spick and span with their litter pickers and trolleys. Of course this job should be completely redundant but, until it is, many thanks to you! My point is illustrated by the splendid Elvis aka Chris Lambert, so expertly caught in the accompanying photograph by Chris Porsz (thanks for the photo Chris!). There are many other individuals and groups that deserve recognition - I merely use Elvis to illustrate my point - I hope his ears are burning!

Civic pride isn't just about buildings, heritage, planning and environment. It's about people who, individually and collectively, take responsibility for caring for and promoting the place in which they live. It's about having a positive attitude to our city and finding ways to play a part, however small. If only our national politicians demonstrated the same levels of positivity and commitment that I have encountered on my travels around this city. Oh well, we can only hope!

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Favourite areas to sit outside

This article was first published in the 21 March 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Toby Wood.

As I get older the simple things in life become far more appealing - a quiet night in watching the telly, a decent cup of coffee at one of the many Peterborough cafés - a tasty beer in a bar or pub and, perhaps most important of all, a good sit down!

For me there is nothing better than sitting in the city centre and watching the world go by on a bright spring day. Thankfully there are an increasing number of places where I can indulge this simple pleasure. However, there are still improvements to be made and I will suggest a few later.

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On my most recent wander round town I discovered ten central and easily-accessible public locations which include adequate seating. The actual type of seating is remarkably similar - perhaps there is a Peterborough City Council template. I found all the seating to be sturdy and functional and easy to sit on. All the benches generally cater for a reasonable number of people but they are not so comfortable to encourage people to curl up and fall asleep. Indeed the cold metal edging on some of the seating encourages you to get up and move onwards pretty quickly!

Here are my 10 locations, some better than others and, in traditional Top Of The Pops order, starting with number 10. 1. Cathedral Square (the busiest and most used seating, particularly in summer) 2. Green Square Long Causeway (complete with its quotes from poet John Clare); 3. St. John's Square (facing the glorious front of St John's parish church); 4. Bridge Street (busy and shady - sadly sometimes care has to be taken to avoid bird droppings. Nevertheless from here you can watch speeding mobility scooters and cyclist being done for riding); 5. Lower Bridge Street (near the Magistrates' court and the Henry Penn Bellfounder artwork); 6. Church Street next to St John's Church (close to Barclay's Bank); 7. Long Causeway (near Boots' opticians); 8. Laxton Square (outside the Market); 9. King Street (off Cowgate); 10. Cowgate Crescent Bridge roundabout (on the way to the bus station).

Perhaps my favourite place to sit is on Cathedral Square, not on one of the benches but on one of the square marble cubes facing the entrance to the cathedral. These one-man resting places are ideal for the people watcher and offer the sitter the chance to swivel round through all four points of the compass. Marvellous!

There are other places to sit in town, notably in Queensgate. However the seating there is generally little coloured pods which look comfortable enough but in fact are quite hard to get out of. These seem to be comparatively random and, I have to say, sub-IKEA like in terms of attractiveness of design.

Perhaps the most surprising place to sit in the city centre is also the quietest. I refer of course to the cloisters which are on the south side of the cathedral. Go through the precincts, follow the little path round to the right there you are - a whole collection of benches just waiting to be sat on. Quiet, out of the way and certainly the best place in town to grab a lunchtime sandwich and sit and contemplate the world.

Of course, dear reader, I may have missed one of your favourites sitting places. Please write and let me know.

Editor - if you want to contact Toby his details are on our Contact Us page.

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City Centre Revival

This article was first published in the 18 April 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Kem Mehmed.

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Last December Council Leader John Holdich published a consultation leaflet 'Our Aspiration - A Framework for Development'. This colourful publication, drawn-up by locally based consultants, is welcomed by the Civic Society. It contains some visionary ideas some of which we can support unreservedly, others are more debateable. A site for the proposed University campus on the Embankment and the redevelopment of North Westgate with a mix of residential and commercial offices are supported. We are unsure about relocating the market. If the market is seen to be currently in the wrong place, why should it suddenly become successful if transferred to Rivergate?

What is needed is an 'Action Plan' which has been worked up through a thorough analysis of the issues which exist and are to be faced in the future, rather than the existing piecemeal planning. In this process the involvement and active participation of a wide range of stakeholders is essential.

This has been done in the past, but not since 2008. Back then an extensive consultation was carried out by the City Council in partnership with Opportunity Peterborough resulting in the publication of the Peterborough City Centre Action Plan. It identified a number of 'Issues and Options' covering subjects such as; Business Space, University, Retail, Cultural, Housing, Parking, Public Realm, River Nene, Cathedral Views.

Events rather overtook the steady progress of revitalising the city centre. After a decade or so of intense research, consultation and plan formulation the global financial crash of 2007/8 put almost all investment in commercial development on the back burner. So much forward-looking urban planning in Peterborough had, perhaps created a touch of fatigue and as the City Council had the duty to update its statutory Local Plan this took priority. The Local Plan was rolled into a City Centre Plan, and both were adopted in December 2014.

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Development in the city centre has not been completely absent since 2008. Some significant capital investments have been made, most significantly in the improvements to the public realm financed through the public sector. Until the advent of the joint venture scheme, Fletton Quays, no single major development in the private sector has been seen in the city centre for many years.

The Local Plan is essentially a Development Control 'Bible'. It may be seen to point the way but does not actively push forward projects which will deal with issues and challenges which threaten the vitality of the city centre. What is needed is a comprehensive, all embracing plan of action.

The Civic Society suggests that the City Council should take the lead role in the drawing-up of new City Centre Action Plan in partnership with the Combined Authority and Opportunity Peterborough. A fast track method could be employed using a dedicated team from the council's in-house planners and other professionals. There must be input from advisors with urban design, landscaping and financial expertise. We also feel it is vitally essential to involve a wide cross section of other stakeholders - community groups, individuals, further education providers, land owners and businesses who have a genuine interest in the future of the city centre. As a focus for involvement a City Centre Forum might be set up.

We in the Civic Society believe that these suggestions point towards a more positive future for Peterborough city centre.

Please take part by giving us your view.

Editor - if you want to contact Kem his details are on our Contact Us page.

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Rare views of Peterborough Cathedral

This article was first published in the 23 May 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Kem Mehmed.

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One of the highlights of my life is supporting Peterborough United through thick and thin, through times happy and grim. Posh is like an old jumper - warm, familiar and sometimes full of holes, the sort of jumper that your wife sometimes says to you, "why don't you just give up and throw it away?" Thankfully my wife Irene and I share a common love for Posh and we have season tickets on the back row of the top tier of the family stand. In fact this is the highest place you can sit in the stadium and therefore possibly the most elevated in Peterborough (until Posh get a new ground that is!). From our seats we can see across towards the hospital to the west and the fens out towards Whittlesey to the east. To the north we have been able to catch glimpses of the top of the Cathedral but, sadly, these are now disappearing due to the Fletton Quays development.

Nearly twenty years ago the Civic Society undertook a Cathedral views project. This was as simple as it sounds - a collection of views of our wonderful cathedral from all possible viewpoints. The objective of the project was simple - any planner, builder or developer needing to know which views are to be preserved could access the document and see at a glance which views are sacrosanct. However, as with most documents, this soon became out of date. Indeed the original Cathedral views document was paper only.

Consequently the Council and Civic Society recently both agreed that a new version was needed. Society members have been busy finding all the existing, and any new views. We undertook an initial winter assessment with no leaves on the trees to obscure the views and now we are in the process of taking the same views with abundant spring/summer foliage.

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The study has thrown up some very interesting new views, a couple of which are temporary and which readers might like to see for themselves before they disappear. The demolition of Bridge Street police station has meant that a splendid view of the south face of the Cathedral can now be had by standing on the river bridge close to the entrance to Charters (see photos, click image to enlarge). Once the new Premier Inn is built this view will once again be obscured, possibly for another fifty years or more. Likewise there is a distant but nevertheless spectacular view to be had from Hawksbill Way, just over the river bridge as you walk towards the entrance to the football ground. This is another view soon to disappear as Fletton Quays grows.

With the Embankment site designated as the new University campus we need to ensure that the "classic" view of the Cathedral from the south west is not obscured by overly tall buildings.

It is hoped that, once the survey is complete, it will be accessible online for individuals as well as organisations to access. Watch this space!

Posh may well have a brand new football stadium in the next few years and fans have been told that it may remain close to the city centre. If this is the case, Irene and I will be the first in the queue to purchase season tickets as high as we can in the new stadium as long as we can have another wonderful Cathedral view!

Editor, because this piece is about (rare) views of the Cathedral, I could not resist publicising some photos taken by our vice-chair Toby on 31 December 2019 at 3.30pm in the low/setting sunlight of the West front. Yes not rare views but no matter how often one sees the West front, is always stunning particularly with these shots. Click photos to enlarge.

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Converting offices into apartments

This article was first published in the 20 June 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Kem Mehmed and Toby Wood.

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Turning empty offices into apartments is a good thing but not everyone agrees.

Throughout England more than half of all new homes in some areas have been created by allowing developers to convert offices without detailed planning permission. These ‘Permitted Development rights’ were brought in by the Government to help boost house-building figures and since 2015, 30,575 housing units in England have been converted from offices to flats without having to go through the planning system. These conversions are exempt from most of the requirements applied to other planning permissions. There is no provision for ‘affordable housing’ normally 30%, space standards for apartments do not apply, open space and financial contributions to such things as schools or transport improvements do not apply. It has resulted in a potential loss of more than 7,500 affordable homes, according to the study by the Local Government Association.

The loss of employment space and opportunities for start-up businesses is also a concern. This can do damage to the vitality of the city centre.

In Peterborough over a dozen such conversion schemes have been done since 2014 mostly in the city centre with a smaller number on industrial areas and district shopping centres. There was a surge of conversions in the city centre beginning with Touthill Close, Hereward Centre and Wentworth House. Most of the apartments created are of a reasonable size and some are spacious but more recent schemes contain very small flats in convoluted internal layouts.

A count of permitted and other conversion schemes reveal that about 900 flats have been consented in the city centre alone. No ‘new build’ flats have been built in the city centre in the same time, apart from those at Fletton Quays.

The office space lost, most of which was relatively modern, could amount to about 4,000 jobs. No new offices have been built in the city centre for many years. The most recent one is Bayard Place which is, itself, to be converted to flats! Perhaps all that will be left will be the ghosts of town planners and architects, income tax inspectors and council housing officers will be felt drifting wistfully through the corridors of the new apartments and bedsitters?

....and now for something complete different

Last weekend (15 and 16 June 2019) was the annual Heritage Festival, organised by Vivacity and very good it was too! The Civic Society stall was moved to St John’s Square as part of something called Heritage Street (a sort of local interest Sesame Street). The move was a two-edged sword (pardon the Heritage Festival pun) since our stall was further way from the main action than in previous years but nevertheless in a sheltered location. Between the showers, we received a goodly number of visitors.

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The people who stopped and spoke to us clearly have the interests of Peterborough at heart. True, some people bemoan the changes that have happened to the city over the past fifty years but there are also people who realise that change is inevitable. I am reliably informed that the re-enactors themselves, many of whom come to Peterborough from all over the country, appreciate the fact that the festival is not just attended by the white middle-class heritage freaks but by a cross-section of the general population, all of whom are keen to learn more about basic history as well as the city in which they now reside. In short Viva Peterborough!

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Guildhall, Cathedral Square

This article was first published in the 18 July 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Toby Wood.

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It's odd how you can sometimes overlook the obvious. When I was working full-time I just didn’t have the time to look around me and appreciate my immediate surroundings. And so was with the city centre. I remember Cathedral Square when it housed the market and I also remember the public toilets that were situated just to the north of the Guildhall, close to St John's Church and what is now MacDonald's. However, unlike many other older Peterborians, I do not yearn for 'the old days'. I certainly don't want to go back to nearly being knocked over by cars competing with the market traders on Bridge Street and Long Causeway. Despite what the nostalgists might say, the twenty-first century city centre is much cleaner and better cared for than fifty years ago.

However one building that has remained largely unaltered is the Guildhall and it is a shame that it is starting to look scruffy and unused. When I passed by the other day the Guildhall steps were occupied by what can best be described as casual drinkers attempting to create some sort of unofficial outdoor Wetherspoons. The Guildhall is, Cathedral excepted, Peterborough city centre's most important and distinctive building. So it's a shame that little or nothing is being done to use it or preserve it in a productive way.

The Guildhall was built by John Lovin in 1670-71 in celebration of the restoration of Charles II. It stands on, or close to, the site of a covered "Butter Cross" which was the site of the dairy market. It is believed that the "Chamber over the Cross" replaced an earlier timber framed Moothall and Guildhall standing on the northern side of the square. It was restored in 1929.

Editor, I admit I am guilty of walking past the Guildhall and not looking at it closely, the writer took these photos, click on image to enlarge.

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Nearly twenty years ago a proposal was made to enclose the Guildhall's arches with glass and to use the created enclosed area as some sort of display space. We believe this could easily be achieved without any major alteration or damage to the building itself. At the time the Council gave the proposal serious consideration but, as with many other potential projects, it was placed on the back burner due to cost. Now I'm realistic enough to know that, due to the state of local authority finances, little is likely to happen at the moment. But, as with most things, all it takes is someone with persistence, drive and the ability to persuade potential benefactors to turn a dream into reality.

The space could either have a specific focus or something of a more temporary pop-up nature. It could be a reinvigorated visitor centre or perhaps a display space containing exhibitions from local voluntary or creative groups. If this were to be the case I guarantee that here would be enough takers to fill it all the year round.

Surely the Council could initiate another competition to design a creative use for the building. I'm sure that local architects and university schools of architecture around the country would relish the chance to show off their innovative design skills. And of course they would have the chance to show how the upstairs space (along with its spiral staircase access) could be developed.

So come on Peterborough, let's do something with the Guildhall. You never know, it might even soon warrant a blue plaque. Watch this space!

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Places to visit away from the City Centre

This article was first published in the 22 August 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Toby Wood and Peter Lee.

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One of my Twitter acquaintances recently contacted me and said that he was travelling by train to stay in the centre of Peterborough for a couple of days. Not being a frequent visitor to our fair city he asked me what attractions he could visit within easy walking distance. Of course I mentioned all the usual suspects – the Cathedral, Museum, St John’s Church, Lido as well as a decent range of pubs, bars and restaurants.

It was then I realised just how many places there are to visit which are not within walking distance of the centre and which require a bus, taxi ride or very stiff walk. I refer to these as the ‘on the edge’ attractions, ones that require a little more effort to reach. Let’s just think for a minute about where these places are.

If the visitor to Peterborough has a strong constitution and doesn’t mind walking or cycling then I would suggest a route from Rivergate beside the Nene Valley Railway (itself adjacent to Railworld complete with its wildlife haven) towards Orton Mere and perhaps Ferry Meadows. Depending on time and stamina the visitor can make a diversion back via the grounds of Thorpe Hall. Although the main building is a Sue Ryder hospice, there is a café as well as very peaceful grounds to wander round. In my opinion not enough Peterborians go there let alone visitors from outside!

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Flag Fen (or more accurately Flag Fen Archaeology Park) is an attraction devoted to the Bronze Age finds that helped us to understand so much more about how our distant ancestors lived 2,500 – 5,000 years ago. The centre is also right on the edge of the Fens, an area so close to our city centre but one that is so singular, distinctive and evocative. Let no-one tell you that the Fens are boring! Where else in this country can you get such dramatic and expansive skies?

Sacrewell Farm and Country Centre is an extremely well-organised and fascinating place to visit, particularly for children but, due to its distance from the city centre it definitely falls into my ‘on the edge’ category.

And then of course there is the magnificent Burghley House near Stamford. I am constantly reminding people that this splendid nationally-important Elizabethan building is in fact in Peterborough, not Stamford (albeit just) and is a great place to visit. Even if you don’t fancy paying to go round the house itself or shelling out to walk round the Gardens of Surprise/Sculpture Gardens, you can always go to the surrounding park for nothing to stroll and have a picnic.

image missing please notify webmaster Perhaps my favourite ‘on the edge’ destination is John Clare Cottage at Helpston. The cottage (or rather collection of cottages knocked together) provides a fascinating insight into one of England’s most famous, influential and, in my opinion, accessible poets. In addition there is a lovely little shop and café that serves wonderful buns!

Getting to many of these attractions isn’t always easy. Perhaps Peterborough needs to find a way to connect them, both in people’s minds as places of interest and also physically. In the same way that we have a Green Wheel that connects places of significance around the city for cyclists and pedestrians, perhaps we now need a circular bus route that makes it easy for Peterborians and visitors alike to access these ‘on the edge’ places. Now there’s a thought.

Heritage Assets List

The Council has recently been seeking nominations for its list of Heritage Assets. Up to now the Council has held a list of Buildings of Local Importance, i.e. buildings not important enough to be on the statutory list of Buildings of Architectural or Historic Importance, but still with local significance. Examples include King’s School, City College (Brook Street) the Brewery Tap in Westgate and many less prominent buildings. And if they are on the list then their heritage significance needs to be taken into account when proposals to change or demolish them come forward.

This list has now been widened so not only will buildings be eligible, but also other features which help to give a place its identity and heritage value and which are important to us as residents. Example might include parish pumps, parks, WW2 pill boxes, buildings with a blue plaque on, structures with character, public sculpture, old quarries, and I know the Council is particularly on the look-out to include railway related buildings, structures and sites. Put your thinking caps on and send in suggestions to builtenvironment@peterborough.gov.uk or call 01733 864487.

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Parkway Improvement or Threat?

This article was first published in the 19 September 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Kem Mehmed.

Front page news in the Peterborough Telegraph on August 15th was of plans for a ‘New £24m junction to open up the university’. What exactly are these plans, where have they come from and have Peterborough citizens got any say in it?

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No detailed plans or even a diagram are available and all we have seen is a description in a report presented to the regional discussion/advisory group, ‘England’s Economic Heartland’ (EEH). This body was set up to promote and coordinate work on the corridor between Swindon and Peterborough/Cambridge. In a discussion document (‘Major Road Network and Large Local Majors Programme of Investment’) it is listed as one of eleven priority projects with a budget of £24.6m to be carried out between April 2023 and April 2024. The proposed scheme will provide direct access to the Embankment from the A1139, Frank Perkins Parkway between Boongate interchange and the River Nene bridge. It will have ‘north facing on and off slips from the A1139 which will connect to both Bishops Road and Potters Way’. There are a number of issues raised by the scheme.

The most obvious problem is; how does southbound traffic access or leave the university site if only north facing slip roads are provided? Traffic exiting the site would be able to use the Boongate interchange, to go south, which is conveniently close but the same cannot be said for traffic entering the site. They would have to go to the Stanground slip road, negotiate the fire station roundabout and go back onto the parkway in a northerly direction, via another roundabout and slip road, a round trip of about two miles.

One of the least satisfactory features of our generally superb parkways is where slip roads are too close together, leading to vehicles criss-crossing at high speeds in short distances; for example on Nene Parkway at the Oundle Road slip-roads. Any exit slip road from the Embankment site would meet Frank Perkin’s Parkway very close to the start of the slip road down to Boongate, one of the busiest on the whole system, which occasionally backs up to the parkway.

It is stated in the transport strategy and by others in the press that the additional slip roads will reduce congestion on the parkway but this opinion ignores the cause of that congestion which is normally a result of slow-moving traffic on the two Boongate roundabouts. What is required is a freeing up of traffic on Boongate itself.

So where did this proposal come from? Yet again no public consultation has been conducted on this significant scheme which is of great interest to Peterborough citizens. We have been told that design is the responsibility of the Combined Authority and from statements reported in the press by Mayor Palmer this is likely to be where the idea for the slip roads came from. Therefore, any comments the public may wish to make should probably be addressed in that direction.

As well as the England’s Economic Heartland document, Outline Transport Strategy, a consultation is underway (Edit. now closed) on the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Transport Plan by the Combined Authority. There is a brief mention there of improved highway access to the Parkway system for the University site but no specifics of how this is to be achieved or when.

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Central Park, Peterborough

This article was first published in the 17 October 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Toby Wood.

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Recently there have been tributes paid to Vince and Filomena Terranova who have just retired from running the Buttercross café in the middle of Central Park after 27 years. Thankfully the café has been taken over by new owners and will hopefully go from strength to strength. Perhaps the extension build by the Terranovas will eventually be opened – it could provide an excellent meeting place as well as a restaurant.Ed. photo left Peterborough Telegraph

Central Park is one of those places that Peterborians should value and cherish and, in the main, that’s exactly happens. However just think how much better the park would be if it once again had a full-time ranger to keep an eye on any maintenance or damage issues. Nevertheless I must say that the beds, plants and borders look pretty good at any time of year so well done to all those concerned.

I have known the Park all my life. I used to go there with my parents and grandparents in the 1950s, for a play on the swings, run around, kick-about or even a game of cricket. I often came home with pockets stuffed with conkers and fir cones (in fact I still do!) and I have taken both children and grandchildren to the place. I’m sure that generations of Peterborians have done exactly the same!

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Readers may not realise how old the Park actually is. It was opened in 1877 and entrance was originally by subscription only. In 1900 the cost of summer season tickets was 15/- for families and 5/- for single people. The stone archway entrance in Broadway was presented to the Council by the Great Northern Railway in 1913 and came from the Crescent that was demolished to make way for Crescent Bridge. Years ago an old WWI tank was sited in the Park and many children used to play on it until it became unsafe. Believe it or not there were also large field guns at the entrance but of course these are long gone.

The Park has not been without controversy. For years there was a bandstand in the middle where the large willow tree now grows. When the bandstand was taken down in 1964 there was an outcry of cycling-in-Bridge-Street proportions. Indeed the Park would once again benefit from a focal point, perhaps a place that could cater for live performances. image missing please notify webmaster image missing please notify webmasterOne day perhaps something similar might be erected again.

I must confess that the Park is not without its difficulties. Anti-social behaviour and drug-dealing have been reported and I have to say that the atmosphere at night is not the best largely due, in my view, to inadequate lighting and the comparative lack of nearby private housing to help keep an eye on the place.

Of course Peterborough has any other parks both old and new. Itter Park, just off Fulbridge Road, is perhaps the best known but there are others including Connect Park near Bourges Boulevard, Manor Farm Park in Eye and Bretton Park. Readers will undoubtedly know more. In fact Peterborough City Council’s website names seven public skate parks, two BMX tracks, nine nature and wildlife parks and well over a hundred smaller play areas suitable for children of varying ages.

Should readers wish to find out more about the Park Road area and the Park itself may I suggest the booklet: Peterborough Local History Series Number 6: Park Road and the Park by the local historian Stephen Perry. This is available from the Visitor Information Centre on Bridge Street.

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Let there be light!

This article was first published in the 21 November 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Toby Wood.

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We are all like moths - attracted to the light, particularly at this time of year when many of us have already enjoyed fireworks and are looking forward to those bright, twinkly lights on the Christmas tree. Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated all over the world and Trafalgar Square has just hosted the largest light festival with many amazing installations.

But light isn’t just for specific celebrations or times of year. We are all affected and made to feel uncertain by the lack of light. And there is plenty that can be done in our ordinary lives to make us feel comforted and reassured.

The Council has been upgrading 17,000 street lights to contain LED energy efficient lights which are designed to direct light downwards onto the road, reducing light pollution to the night sky and into properties. The lights on the city’s many parkways have been upgraded to become more efficient and cost-effective.

Appropriate lighting makes us all feel more safe and secure. How often have we felt nervous if the lights in an underpass have been defective or broken? At one time or another most of us have been full of trepidation if a footpath has been badly lit, just in case we trip or stumble.

But good lighting isn’t all about basic citizen safety – it can also be all about enhancing and enriching our lives. Peterborough Cathedral is a good example of this. What better sight is there than the illuminated west front on a cold November evening? There are other examples of good practice in the city centre, particularly around St John’s Church and Cathedral Square. Bridge Street is bathed in blue light at night, particularly striking when the pavements are wet and reflect the light.

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As the city develops even further there is a great opportunity to promote itself. Think for a moment about the two main gateways to the city centre – Town Bridge and Crescent Bridge. Just think how impressive these might look if they were properly and imaginatively illuminated. Newcastle’s Tyne bridge is lit and very impressive it looks too. Just think how good Town Bridge could look from the new pedestrian bridge across to Fletton Quays when that gets built too (see the photograph of Bedford’s illuminated ‘butterfly’ bridge).

In London there is a project called The Illuminated River which is a long-term art commission to light London’s bridges along the River Thames. It is designed to ‘transform the capital with a unified light installation … that will connect, celebrate and capture the spirit of the Thames and its diverse communities’. Now I’m not saying that Peterborough should try to replicate this but the very existence of the London project suggests that there are designers and artists around who can provide ideas and potential designs.

On a smaller scale Bedford Borough Council was, in 2015, awarded Department of Transport funding to install the latest LED lanterns on its Town Bridge. I am led to believe that this initiative not only made the bridge more attractive but also was more energy efficient, thus saving money.

Now it would be foolish to assume that any new initiatives might happen overnight. But now is the time to persuade developers (who are after all so keen to come to the city) to incorporate innovative lighting schemes into their projects. And while we’re at it, innovative lighting and illumination schemes should be insisted upon at new developments such as Fletton Quays, North Westgate, Northminster or any other planned growth. But first, come on Peterborough, let’s look at Crescent Bridge and Town Bridge. Let there be light!

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Our version of The Twelve Days of Christmas

This article was first published in the 19 December 2019 edition of the Peterborough Telegraph. It was written by committee member Toby Wood.

On the first day of Christmas the Peterborough Telegraph sent to me the chance to review the year 2019. Of course this opportunity is gratefully accepted. Here goes!

On the second day of Christmas Peterborough sent to me a revitalised city centre – so many of our city centres have fallen victim to out-of-town or online shopping habits. Although there are plenty of interesting and vibrant eateries and watering holes, we are in danger of becoming a city of betting shops, vaping stores and pound shops.

On the third day of Christmas Peterborough sent to me a Bridge Street that didn’t have a cycling ban. Now, if you want to get Mr & Mrs Peterborough into a heated argument round the Yuletide log fire just mention this and see what happens. It won’t just be the fire that’s raging. Then again....

On the fourth day of Christmas Peterborough sent to me a gentle reminder to make sure that people take the opportunity to visit any special exhibition at the Museum. The recent Hoards: a hidden history of ancient Britain exhibition was quite splendid – we really are so lucky to see such treasures in the city. Make a New Year Resolution now – I will visit the Museum more in 2020!

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On the fifth day of Christmas Peterborough sent to me rather a lot of sheds in December on Cathedral Square. Now I can quite see the logic in the enterprise – attract people from Peterborough and further afield to come to the city centre to enjoy themselves and spend money. But something went wrong – not enough people came to the centre and the whole thing just looked sad and neglected. Oh – and don’t get me started on the so-called ‘ice bar’ in the Guildhall!

On the sixth day of Christmas Peterborough sent to me news that the Council may not be maintaining the planters in Cowgate, a city centre street that was extensively refurbished in 2013. Now I know that times are hard and councillors have had to pare services to the bone. But surely there must be a way to ensure that there is some spring and summer colour in our lives. Or is 2020 the year that we return to black and white? I predict a (winnable) campaign!

On the seventh day of Christmas Peterborough sent to me an end to interminable roadworks and excavations. There are certain streets in Peterborough who are clearly going for the world record for the number of times they are being dug up. My own street has pavements that are a patchwork of different grades of tarmac, the result of dozens of trenches, cables and pipes.

On the eighth day of Christmas Peterborough sent to me a safe place for people to sleep. Our city, like so many others, has been blighted by rough sleepers. Whatever their back stories let us hope that all these unfortunate people receive adequate support in 2020 to help turn their lives around. They surely don’t like living like this and we are discomforted by seeing them at such a low point in their lives.

On the ninth day of Christmas Peterborough sent to me a real Christmas tree on Cathedral Square. Some people welcomed its return, others were underwhelmed. Controversial though this might be, I think there are excellent ‘artistic’ trees in existence and I for one preferred last year’s!

On the tenth day of Christmas Peterborough sent to me a local paper that does is best in difficult economic circumstances to deliver news and views. Many thanks to Mark Edwards and team for giving the Civic Society a voice in 2019. (notice the subtle creeping there!).

On the eleventh day of Christmas Peterborough sent to me a small present – nothing extravagant or expensive. It was a pocket-size magic wand that I can point at anyone who does any of the following things – fly-tip on our streets, drop chewing gum on the pavement and park their car on a grass verge, particularly outside a school. It’s a marvellous new gadget and I look forward to using it frequently. So, if you happen to notice that one of your neighbours has suddenly disappeared you know what might have almost certainly happened!

On the twelfth day of Christmas (or 12th December to be precise) Peterborough sent to me a new government which promised us all sorts of improvements – time will tell if these will make a difference to all our lives. Paul Bristow, our new member of parliament has promised that he will “unleash Peterborough’s potential” (but probably not the potential, for cyclists to ride down Bridge Street). Let’s wait to see what happens. See you back here in a year’s time to find out! Happy Christmas to all our members and visitors to this website. If not yet a member then join us!. Do not miss out on our activities and the larger our membership the more influence we can bring on matters of concern.

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