Peterborough is one of the UK’s fastest growing and successful New Towns. Steeped in history its ancient Cathedral is based on a site where religious observances have taken place since the seventh century.
Its origins as a town of industry, first in brickmaking, and then manufacturing, have laid the foundations for a dynamic business environment. It continues to be a magnet for engineering talent, and trades well upon its connection to strategic infrastructure (which caused the city to boom in the first place). Large manufacturing firms such as Perkins and Caterpillar have engineering bases there. According to CBR figures, 20% of Peterborough’s turnover comes from high-tech manufacturing (with a further 6% stemming from other manufacturing).
Its position on the A1(M) and East Coast Mainline make it an attractive place for businesses valuing ease of transportation, enabling many firms to establish distribution centres there, including Amazon. Due to the UK’s strong preference for online shopping, this industry is likely to both grow and change in future as new methods of transport and distribution become available. It has also acted as a magnet for aspirational workers who want easy access to London, the Midlands, and the North, coupled with affordable housing.
Peterborough has a rich history of inward migration over many generations, driven by employment prospects, the rail and brick industries in post-war times for example, and by social circumstances. Peterborough accepted around three quarters of the Eastern region’s asylum-seeking cohort in the 1990’s, and more recent growth of central and eastern European residents has seen new residents come into the city to take up employment, typically in agriculture, logistics, and the service sector. Its population today is young and multiculturally diverse and growing at a fast rate – with more than 150 languages spoken.
Peterborough has challenges too. It has a lower proportion of residents with higher-level skills than elsewhere in the area, and educational and health outcomes in Peterborough are relatively poor.
Peterborough City Council
As a unitary authority Peterborough City Council has both the powers of a county and district council combined. The political leadership of the council is made up of sixty councillors, one third of whom are normally elected each year, with no elections in the fourth year. The leader of the Council is Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, and the Deputy Leader is Cllr Steve Allen. The council uses a Leader and Cabinet model for decision making. There is no one political party with overall control at present, although the Administration is Conservative.
Find out more about the council here https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/council/about-the-council
Looking to the future.
- A new dedicated city university – Peterborough’s brand-new University opened in September 2022, with a second building soon to open and a third under construction. Being an employment-focussed university, the council and the university are working with regional employers as co-creators of the curriculum.
- Continued regeneration of the riverside – the redevelopment of Fletton Quays is nearing completion, with a new Government Hub having recently opened, the Hilton Hotel nearing completion, and two remaining plots at pre-application planning stage. Opposite Fletton Quays, the city’s incredibly Embankment space is next for consideration in terms of the role it can play in the city’s resurgence.
- £1bn growth and regeneration strategy – the council is leading the development and delivery of an ambitious £1bn regeneration and growth strategy, including a city centre masterplan, and major residential and employment schemes.
- City Centre offer – major new retail brands are committed to coming to Peterborough alongside more recent growth, coupled with increased nighttime economy offerings.
- Towns Fund - £21m was secured from the Government's Towns Fund to deliver – among other things - a pedestrian bridge over the River Nene, a green technology centre and an activity centre at Nene Park.
- Levelling Up Fund - a £48m Levelling Up Fund bid has been awarded to the city to regenerate, grow, and expand the area around Peterborough Train Station – to be known as the Station Quarter.
- Digital Connectivity - thanks to City Fibre, Peterborough has a full fibre network, making it one of the most connected cities in the UK.
- School Infrastructure – Peterborough has kept pace with the significant demand for school places by investing £88m in school buildings and expansion over the past five years. The council has directly funded £25m of this sum.
- Highways – Peterborough’s highways service (a partnership with Milestone) ranked first in the East of England in the 2022 National Highways and Transport public satisfaction survey. It was also awarded ‘Project of the Year’ for the Nene Bridge in the regional Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation awards