Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum by Peterborough City Council (NT 24(a))

1.   What is the original objective of the town?

  The initial objective was to establish four new "townships" each with a large number of houses serviced by a shopping centre and community centres. (Three were actually built at Bretton, Orton and Werrington). Linking road networks were also planned to join the areas with the City Centre.

2.   Which of those objectives have been met?

  Three of the four townships have been built—a fourth, Hampton, has subsequently begun. Linking Roads—"Parkways" have been built around each of the communities, providing quick links around and into the city centre.

3.   What do you consider to be its role in the region and sub-region in the future?

  Peterborough plays an important role within the East of England, it has the second highest population within the region and is a key centre for employment and leisure. Peterborough is recognised as a key centre for growth by the East of England Development Agency, it is however, also a priority for regeneration. The city is seen as a lead contributor to the development of the region, despite its location on the fringes of the East of England. The city is a sub-regional centre, providing facilities and employment to a catchment area of 350,000 people, covering parts of the counties of Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Norfolk. With provision for continued expansion, it is recognised that Peterborough has the environment to aid the development of growth within the region, particularly around Cambridge.

4.   To what extent is the original master plan for the town still used as a guiding principle for development and redevelopment?

  The master plan remains as a guiding principle for the development of Peterborough, however, increasing weight has been placed upon securing appropriate development for the City in a way that continues to aid the quality of life rather than detract from it.

5.   How well have the old and new parts of the town been integrated?

  With the design of the three townships focussing upon containing facilities within a district centre, it is easy to see how old and new parts of the town remain isolated by their environment, of the new Townships, Werrington is closest to the city centre—three miles away. Comparisons between the old and new parts of the town are stark, crime remains highest in the old parts of town, whilst education attainment is also lower. Regeneration funding has typically been received for the older parts of the city, and with the ageing of the new town elements of the city. Attempts have been made to secure funds for the new townships, however, the perception remains that these are the newer areas of the city and consequently wealthier.

6.   Has/can the town achieve the population that was originally planned?

  The original population for Peterborough was 81,900 in 1968, the original plan was to increase the population by 70,000 by 1981. This figure was achieved, however, the figure was increased to 187,900 by 1985. This figure has yet to be attained.

  The tables and graph below indicate the rapid growth of Peterborough from 1971 to 1995. The seventies witnessed the greatest degree of change, engineered by the momentum of new town expansion. Much of Peterborough's growth in the seventies centred on Ravensthorpe and the Bretton and Orton townships, which were developed to attract new residents to Peterborough.

  Throughout the eighties the high level of in-migration continued. People from many UK regions moved to Peterborough to benefit from a healthy and growing economy, and a green and clear "New Town" environment. The Orton and Werrington townships were completed during this period.

  The nineties saw a change to this trend of continuous growth. From mid-1995 to mid-1998 the population total fell each year. The decline was predominantly a local issue and was not mirrored nationally or at the regional level. Much of the decline has been attributed to the high growth rates experienced in neighbouring districts over the same period. Net outward migration to neighbouring market towns together with a slow down in the number of people migrating into the District is seen as the primary cause of the decline.

  However, the mid-1999 estimate shows an increase in Peterborough's population for the first time since mid-1995. The total remained stable at mid-2000. The table below highlights the changes in Peterborough's population from 1971-99.
Mid-Year1971 198119911995 199619971998 19992000
Population106,500134,300 155,000159,300158,700 156,900156,000156,500 156,500

  Source: ONS Mid-Year Estimates

  Notable house building development at Peterborough's fourth township, Hampton, continues to gather momentum and attract people from outside the district. Hampton is planned to provide a total of 5,200 dwellings between 1997 and 2015 and will no doubt provide an important impetus for further growth throughout the next decade.


  The mid-2000 estimate is the latest available from ONS (published August 2000). The main points of interest are summarised below:

  Mid-2000: 156,500  Total Population

  Change mid-1999/2000 = Nil  The 2000 mid-year estimate of Peterborough's population is 156,500

  Components of change  This represents an increase in population of approximately 500 persons (0.3 per cent) since mid-1998.

  Births = 2,100

  Deaths = 1,400

  Migration & Other = -700  By comparison, the change nationally (England & Wales) for the period 1999-2000 was an increase of 0.48 per cent.

  Note: ONS produce a set of population estimates for all local authority and health authority areas annually, and publish the figures in late August each year.

  Over the last 15 years it has seriously declined and is now in need of urgent regeneration. Its decline has been due to a number of factors which include competition from out of town retail parks, the closure of the British Aerospace factory, an ageing built environment requiring investment, fragmented land ownership and shop units of the wrong size.

  The Council has produced a development brief which will involve the demolition of over half of the town centre and its replacement with an increase in retail floorspace together with residential and community facilities. The Council has entered into partnership with English Partnerships although the future is uncertain due to the current government review of EP. The Council is also prepared to use its compulsory powers to achieve the redevelopment and the partnership is currently undertaking a short listing process which by the end of the year will result in a developer achieving preferred status.

  In Welwyn Garden City the role of the town centre is somewhat different. A combination of the quality of the environment of the town and the existence of a John Lewis department store and an 180,000 sq ft shopping centre (the Howard Centre) makes it a significant sub-regional attractor. However, the town centre faces increased competition from other towns in Hertfordshire and shopping centres located around the M25. As a consequence, in the current review of the District Plan the Council proposes to increase the retail floorspace within the town centre. The District Plan will be subject to a public inquiry early next year.


  The 1983 transfer from the Commission for New Towns included Category 2 clawback land, where the clawback started at 100 per cent and reduces by 2 per cent per annum. Such an arrangement is bad estate management practice. There is no incentive for the landowner to dispose or develop such land for its best and most effective use and effectively the land is sterilised for many years.

  Restrictive covenants have a similar effect, although the compensation is negotiable and not fixed as in Category 2 clawback.

  It is difficult to give examples of things that have not happened due to the above as there can be many reasons why land or property remains undeveloped. But the following is a small example of difficulties caused by the clawback provision.

  For example, recently an application was received for a small section of amenity land from an adjoining resident, which in principle would be acceptable. However this is Category 2 land and the repayment for the clawback, and the added complications involved, make it difficult to justify proceeding with such a transaction.


  The transfer of assets from the Commission for New Towns in Welwyn Garden City included large areas of amenity land, open space and private footpaths, service roads etc. The budget requirement for ground maintenance for the District is £1.3 million, the majority of which is for former CNT land.

8.   How strong is the demand for the existing commercial land? Is there demand for further commercial development in the town? What is the effect on other towns?

  Demand for commercial land in Peterborough is again gathering pace. Growth at Hampton, the City's fourth township has seen the development of IKEA and News International, the relocation of companies within this area of the city is continuing into the future. Within the next six months, the City will see its first speculative development for 10 years. The City Centre continues to see development within the leisure and retail sectors.

9.   Can you described the sub-regional planning arrangements that are in place to regulate/facilitate development? Can you describe the strengths and weaknesses of the current approach?

  No comment available.

10.   What is the regional/sub-regional role of the shopping centre in the town?

  The Queensgate centre provides shopping facilities for a total population of 350,000, its influence covering Southern Lincolnshire, West Norfolk, East Northamptonshire and North and West Cambridgeshire. Its emphasis has been challenged within the past five years by the growth in popularity of the shopping malls such as Blue Water and Meadowhall. The centre has also acted as growth node for the leisure industry with the development of a thriving leisure area.


11.   Can you give some numerical examples of the problems that have arisen with clawback and covenants in housing, amenity space and other land uses?

  A recent disposal of land with a 74 per cent clawback (£519,000 sale price, £384,000 claw back) is likely to cause a problem in that the sale was part of other activity in the area which has removed facilities from (for example) local schools. Replacing these facilities is likely to cost more than the remaining receipt.

12.  The Committee has been made aware that in some cases clawback has made Right to Buy marginal or even negative, in terms of receipts to the local authority. Has this been the case in your authority? If so can you give a financial example? What are the implications of this?

  The RTB clawback is framed so that it is not negative in our case, but it is punitive. Since the transfer in 1990, 824 former CNT houses have been sold. A total of £8,740,000 has been paid to CNT/EP and the useable receipt has been only £1,320,000 which amounts to only £1,600 per property.

  If no clawback had been in place the purchase price would have been greater, but this would have been fully matched by higher housing subsidy.

13.   Can you quantify the outstanding liabilities facing your authority, firstly as a result of the package of assets and liabilities transferred to the authority at the winding up of the Development Corporation, and secondly as a result of design and other issues relating to the New Town?

  We do not have the data available or the resources to estimate this in the time available. Indeed the Council deliberately took the view that the assets and liabilities which were transferred simply became part of the Council's expenditure on services or its income-generating assets.

  The costs of renewing the new town retail centres in Orton and Bretton are in the order of several millions alone, and there are also high cost issues around the provision of car parking facilities and problems relating to the housing design. Blocks of bed-sit units which were provided to meet the needs of the new town have become virtually unlettable and around £4 million is needed to remodel these blocks. Community safety and environmental costs of maintaining trees and shrubs are of widespread concern in the new town underpasses and connections.

14.   How does the financial value of the liabilities caused as a result of your town being a New Town, compare to the financial value of the remaining assets held by English Partnerships in the town?

  It is estimated that EP own 300 acres of land in the District. 180 acres are in Castor of which 80-90 acres have development potential. The remaining land is dispersed in small pockets around the city. The value of these holdings has not recently been assessed.

15.   To what extent has English Partnerships participated within regeneration partnerships in your town?

  English Partnerships' contribution has been sporadic to regeneration in Peterborough. They have yet to contribute to either the Single Regeneration Budget or the Urban II programme. English Partnerships are currently engaged within the Greater Peterborough Partnership, the area's Local Strategic Partnership and the Greater Peterborough Inward Investment Agency (GPIA).

  Social landlords with neighbouring pockets of EP land have not taken advantage to offer these sites as development opportunities for social housing. The lack of affordable housing is recognised as a barrier to regeneration.

16.   Many of the submissions have referred to the inadequacy of the existing SSA to reflect the needs of the New Towns. Can you detail those weaknesses and set out any suggestions about how any successor to the SSA could be improved?

  Work was done in the early 1990s by the then ADC New Town Finance Officers Panel. There was a clear feeling that the formula did not reflect the problems of new towns, but no changes were identified in the existing SSA indicators that would uniformly benefit the New Towns. New indicators were not proposed because of difficulties in data gathering.

  Many of the issues—renewing infrastructure—might be more easily addressed through capital allocations, and thus by the corresponding revenue grant (currently in capital financial SSA) that is expected to form part of the new capital system.

17.   Has the pattern of ownership and CNT/EP's role had any implication in your ability to develop a housing strategy for the area?

  The City Council manages some 3,900 homes, which remain from those acquired from the former Peterborough Development Corporation. On any individual sale of these properties EP is entitled to a clawback on a sliding scale based on the residential value. The Council is following a strategy of LSVT of its housing stock. The estimated financial impact of clawback is £3 million. The clawback ceases in 2005 and because this is the case it is the recommended date for transfer. This delays the preferred date for transfer by between two and three years.

  The other implication is the difficulty the City Council has in co-ordinating housing strategies due to the ``pepper pot'' of social landlords other than the City Council due to the fragmented method the Development Corporation used in dispersing the housing stock in one area. The City Council is attempting to rationalise the management of housing stocks to maximise operational effectiveness.


18.   What is the balance between the original design/materials used and the lack of maintenance/resources for maintenance in the causes of the poor housing conditions found in some of the New Towns?

19.   Has design led to problems with crime? If so have you looked at ways of designing out crime?

  Peterborough is associated with a ``crime family group'', the City however, features within the bottom quartile in terms of total number of offences. Within the City, during 2000/01 crime fell within the City Centre by 7.2 per cent, however, within the Ortons incidents of crime rose by 20 per cent compared with the previous 12 months. Motor vehicle crime is particularly high, as is residential burglary. Regeneration programmes have sought to design out crime by improving landscaping and shutting ``rat-runs'' created by Radburn type housing.

  However, fear of crime in the new town is rising quickly and is a key concern to the city's Community Safety Partnership.

20.   What are you doing through your Local Transport Plan to address the problems of car dependence? Does your Local Transport Plan include provision for dealing with issues of design and layout where that promotes car dependence?

  Peterborough is laid out around a series of ``parkways'' which are relatively low density (the city has the highest average speed for crossing the city than any other). This has however led to a dependency on the car. This feature has been and remains an attraction to commercial business.

  In response to increased use of the car, the Local Transport Plan has a vision of:

  ``over the next 15 years Peterborough will develop a transport system which is best in the East of England because it will:

  ``seek to encourage alternative forms of transport within both urban and rural areas. The authority has recently received approval for a Home Zone to remove cars in a community in its urban area. The plan recognises the future growth of car use and is actively developing green transport plans with local businesses and communities. Emphasis will continue to be focused upon improving local bus routes and improving the provision of facilities for cyclists and pedestrians''.

21.   Have you introduced or planned any measures to promote mobility schemes targeted at the old or the young?

  No mobility scheme has, as yet, been devised specifically for the old or young.

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Prepared 23 August 2002