Planning Applications

Each fortnight your Plans Group meets to review the latest applications for planning permission and listed building consent. These are usually, though not always, major proposals. The Society does not comment on proposals whose impact is restricted to immediate neighbours. Where appropriate, written comments are followed up by putting our case in person.

The following is a list of the cases the Group has commented upon and which the City Council has made a decision - others await decision and will be reported later.

The reference numbers have been given so that should you wish to examine the plans, you can access them via the Peterborough City Council's Planning applications page and by entering the reference number in the search box.

21/01151/R4OUT Northminster redevelopment
An outline planning application for the redevelopment of the market and former multi-storey car park site at Northminster. The applicant, PIP (Northminster) Ltd, is part of the Peterborough Investment Partnership, a joint venture company consisting of the City Council and its partner IAGH3. It proposes a 12 and 11 storey residential block in an ‘H’ plan shape containing up to 335 units plus two ground floor commercial units fronting onto a reconfigured Laxton Square. There would be only 50 on site car parking spaces and a single vehicular access to the car park from Northminster Road. It is stated that all the units will be social/affordable/intermediate rent with no indication of sizes given although the attendant Design & Access Statement does indicate a mix of 1 to 3 bed apartments. None of the 335 residential units will ‘Market Housing’.

We were consulted on the proposal before the application was submitted and some minor tweaks have been made as a result. However, our major concerns remain unresolved and centre around the future of the market, scale of the scheme, the effect on Cathedral views and the inadequacy of car parking.

Please see our very detailed response and objection to 21/01151/R4OUT by following the link, and also mentioned in our Newsletter, edition September 2021.

18/01374/OUT North Westgate Redevelopment
Our comments: The society strongly supported in principle but with some requests for amendment. The Society welcomes the decision of the City Council to work with Hawksworth Securities towards implementation of their scheme, supporting it with land acquisition, by Compulsory Purchase if necessary. The Society appreciates the opportunity for its own occasional update meetings with Hawksworth.

Fletton Quays

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When the original outline planning application (15/01589/OUT) came in for the Fletton Quays (i.e. "South Bank") site in 2015 the Society objected. But it was approved in December 2016 and since then there has been an impressive amount of activity to bring the scheme to reality.

Responding to the initial application, the Society welcomed the scheme in principle but felt that the proposals would not regenerate the area. There was nothing in the scheme to attract visitors other than views of the river and the Cathedral. No 'iconic' footbridge linking the site to the rest of the city centre; no meaningful renovation and re-use of the heritage railway buildings and Whitworth Mill. We felt the scheme was not good enough but the consent did impose conditions to address some of the concerns raised by us and others. Since then there has been a flurry of activity including, on the ground, the demolition of Aqua House and all industrial type structures around the mill. The 19C engine shed has been converted to offices and a new block built linked to its east elevation. Both these now house PCC departments, relocated from the Town Hall and Bayard Place.

16/00652/REM and 16/00653/LBC Office block, renovation of railway engine sheds, multi-storey car park and access
Developers have been named for two major phases of the development. Bride Hall Developments will construct the new Council offices and renovation of the engine shed for which permissions were granted in June 2016. Members of Civic Society plans group were shown plans in advance of the submission and were favourably impressed. Some comments on the entrance to the engine shed and incorporation or protection of features in this building were taken on board.

16/01204/DISCHG Public Realm, phasing, ecology, bird boxes, etc.
Re the public realm, we said that the use of a palette of high quality materials tailored to suit the variety of urban spaces and circulation routes is commendable. The picking out of surface details and shapes to reflect the history of the site, such as railway turntable and rail tracks is good. The river edge 'promenade' consists of a wide area containing both soft landscape areas and hard edge to water. This is a welcome 'quayside' effect. We are pleased to see some form of quayside in Fletton Quays.

No provision for the future installation of a footpath link under Town Bridge at the riverside or the footbridge over the Nene in the centre of the site have been shown but there appears to be nothing which would make either of these vital pieces of infrastructure difficult to achieve.

16/01314/REM Residential blocks
This is a complex reserved matters application, registered in July 2016, showing details of the four residential blocks containing 280 apartments and retail/leisure units with undercroft car parking. The four blocks were within the height and footprint parameters shown on the outline approval, and the seven-storey block at the western end was slightly lower.

August 2017 Update

16/02385/FUL. 358 Apartments, retail/leisure units and undercroft car parking.
A new full planning application for Fletton Quays was submitted in December 2016 and amended in June 2017. This application was needed as it increased significantly the number of apartments from the 280 approved in the outline. The shape of the proposed housing blocks remained within the parameters set in the outline permission except for the one closest to Town Bridge which was 1.2 metres higher. PCS objected to the new application on the grounds of; overdevelopment (too many units), insufficient car parking for the apartment numbers, and insufficient regard for Cathedral views (blocks orientated poorly).

Weston Homes, the applicants, submitted a set of revised drawings which included an additional 100 car parking spaces under the apartment blocks. Permission was formally granted on 31st July 2017 with a long list of conditions but with no provision for 'Affordable Housing' despite the PCC's own Housing Strategy Team requesting a contribution of 23 dwellings. (Local Plan policy requirement of 30% of the additional = 78 units.)

Kem Mehmed

November 2020 Update

17/01626/FUL Conversion of Whitworth Mill to an Arts Centre

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The 19C mill is a prominent landmark on the south bank of the River Nene in views; from the Embankment, Town Bridge and Frank Perkins Parkway. It is part of the city's industrial, transport and agricultural heritage. The proposal will bring the mill back to life with a new use as an arts centre bringing significant benefit to the cultural life of the city.

There are many aspects of the proposal which we fully support. However, there is one major element in the scheme about which we have serious reservations. The lobby/stairwell extension on the west elevation has a deleterious impact on the essential character of the mill. The western approach is and will continue to be the most important one for visitors to the Arts Centre whether they come by foot, cycle or car. It will form the first and lasting impression in visitors' minds.

The proposed stairwell pod is too dominant and will project vertically beyond the pediments from ground level viewpoints. The twin pedimented silhouette will be lost. Should it be possible to redesign this element with a reduction in the footprint and with its height restricted to the cornice line of the pediments it might be acceptable. This should certainly be explored.

We would like this suggestion to be addressed and to see some modifications made to the design. If the application remains as submitted the Society feels that it should be refused.

The application was approved without modification on 21st December 2017.

Since then difficulties with securing sufficient funding for the full Arts Centre proposal has led to a rethink by the City Council. Essentially, the scheme has been shelved and attention has moved elsewhere in addressing the desire to enhance the cultural assets of the City. In 2019 the City Council put the site of the mill and adjacent land, known as Plots 7&8 Fletton Quays, on the market. Some interest was shown and Samsons a company based in Bedford, which was one of four bidders, submitted the highest unconditional offer for the mill and its surrounding land.

The mill occupies about 22,642 sq ft over four floors and sits on a 1.41 acre site.

A report to councillors states that Samsons plan to use part of the Mill building as a company office for up to 15 staff. It also intends to develop a boutique hotel on the upper floors and seeks to pursue arts related uses on the ground floor with an area of external space used as an arts performance space.

The company has set out proposals for the surrounding site and intends to build four blocks of a similar height to Whitworth Mill with boutique hotel uses on the upper floors and A3 restaurant, food court space on the ground floor. The decision to sell the Mill and surrounding land has still to be approved by councillors.

News that this had fallen through came in June 2020. Follow link to Whitworth Mill for photos and an article from 2017 in Nene Living written by Kem Mehmed over the proposal for the mill to be converted to an arts centre.

17/01766/FUL Hotel (160 bedrooms) plot 1A. Fletton Quays, Peterborough.
This proposal for a 160 bed hotel with ancillary facilities including a ‘sky-bar’ followed an outline permission granted for the whole Fletton Quays development in 2016.

However an objection was lodged by the PCS. The gist of our comment concerned the architectural form created on the river frontage which would create a very bulky appearance when viewed from north of the site. In fact the visual impression from all angles is one of overbearing bulkiness. It is a lump of a building. This is at odds with the architectural form and character of the river frontage being created in the approved elements of the development. We advised that, on this extremely important landmark site time should be taken to produce a building of some strong character in tune with the greater part of Fletton Quays.

The application was approved substantially as submitted. Approval notice dated 6th September 2017.

19/00348/FUL. Apartment Block (100 units).
Peterborough Civic Society objected to this application on grounds of; over development; architectural form and design and; car parking.

Overdevelopment. This application would increase the number of residential units in the Fletton Quays development area from an original application total of 280 to a new total of 458 with scope for further units in the area around the Mill. The Local Plan allocated sites for 280 dwellings under Policy LP49. Such a large increase in provision above the Local Plan figure may have implications on the access from Town Bridge and other infrastructure capacity in the immediate area.

Design. In the viewpoint from the London Road approach the bulkiness of the apartment block is evident and when added to the adjacent approved hotel produces an overbearing and monotonous character compounded by the flat and featureless west facade treatment. The continuous flat roof/eaves line further emphasises the bulkiness making the two buildings read as one very large lump.

Car parking. Only 50% on-site parking is provided in two levels of basement. Under provision of parking spaces is causing problems in nearby Hawksbill Way and is likely to generate some social stress here. Walking distances to bus-stops is excessive even though bus routes pass adjacent to the site! Unless more convenient, and closer, bus-stops can be provided the use of public transport will be inhibited.

PCC Decision. Permitted. Dated 11 October 2019. No alterations to submitted design made.

19/01760/FUL. Office Block at Plot 2 Fletton Quays.

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The Peterborough Civic Society objected to the granting of permission for this development on grounds of poor quality of the architecture at an important gateway to the City Centre and Fletton Quays.

The block has a large footprint in a trapezium shape with six storeys over the whole footprint. This is in effect a large box shape with minimal amount of articulation in the north and south elevations. There is no roof overhang or projection, thus the boxy look is further accentuated. This site is the very first part of the City Centre to be experienced by people approaching from the south and may be said to be a ‘gateway building’.

Something should be done to break-up the boxiness into distinct parts which have more visual appeal or interest and which make sense functionally. A common roof line with the adjacent apartment/hotel block should be avoided as this whole frontage to Town Bridge will be perceived from London Road as a solid, six-storey wall. This could be too monolithic and overbearing and certainly not in character with any other part of the city.

A few minor matters were brought to attention of the officers.

The trees on the site boundary to the railway should be retained. It was regrettable that the best tree on the site, a Plane tree, had been removed without prior permission. The remaining trees, although less than fully mature do provide a good basis for further landscape enhancement of the scheme.

In the formative stages of the overall master plan for Fletton Quays there was an idea to provide a foot/cycle link to the far side of Town Bridge using a part of the rail tunnel. It is still possible to do this by retaining a small part of the site in public ownership for a link in the future.

PCC Decision. Permitted 30 April 2020.
The general design was unchanged apart from minor changes to window reveal depth. Existing trees on railway boundary to be retained.

NB. This is the office block which is to be the home of the Government Hub, a bringing together of a number of Government offices and agencies including the Passport Office. In all about 1,000 people will be located here.

This concludes planning applications relating to the Fletton Quays area compiled by Peter Lee and Kem Mehmed. Other applications of interest elsewhere are:-

16/02096/FUL Broadway Theatre (now renamed New Theatre)
Conversion from cinema/conference/theatre venue to 59 residential apartments etc.

This meant the substantial demolition of the theatre. The Society, along with many others, raised strong objections to the scheme which was eventually refused. The full story can be found on our News and Views page.

15/01840/OUT Residential development (80 houses - outline) Uffington Road Barnack
A major application for development off Uffington Road and outside the village envelope line of Barnack was refused by the City Council in March 2016. An appeal was lodged and was the subject of a Public Inquiry in January. Village envelopes are specifically designed to define the limit of the built up areas and are varied from time to time through the Local Plan process. But no land outside the Barnack envelope had been allocated for development either in the current Peterborough Local Plan or in the latest draft of its replacement So your Plans Groups were shocked to hear that the appeal had been allowed by the Government's inspector. Why? The key issue was the City Council's inability to convince the inspector that sufficient land was readily developable in the Peterborough district to provide five years of land supply. This is a requirement set out in the National Planning Policy Framework Para 49. This meant that the NPPF's pro development position trumped all the relevant local planning policies. The adoption of the current Local Plan in July 2019 has meant that few such applications are now coming forward.

15/00692/FUL New Primary School at Memorial Wing Midland Road.
Our comments: see article page 3 of our July 2015 Newsletter.
Council's decision: Application permitted 4 August 2015 with amended plans addressing our concerns

15/01013/FUL Queensgate rooftop extension for Cinema and food hall
Our comments: The Society was concerned that this would undermine the viability of a North Westgate redevelopment.
Council's decision: Application approved at Planning Committee 29 September 2015

14/01699/PRIOR and 15/00141/FUL Touthill Close office block
Our comments: The first is a 'Prior Notification' application (one not requiring full planning permission under the recent relaxation of planning controls but which the local authority can consider only for potential adverse traffic, flood and contamination effects). The proposal was for change of use from offices to residential units throughout the building. We were concerned at the lack of a comprehensive approach to the land behind the building. The second application was for an addition floor on top of the block for 6 additional units. The floor is shown set back from the main elevations such that it was considered acceptable.
Council's decision: for PRIOR application, no application required; second application permitted 22 April 2015

content last reviewed 22 November 2020 by PL & KM; Northminster 2 September 2021