Fenland loses to Peterborough for £20m 'levelling up'

£20m bid to regenerate Peterborough station

Regenerating the area in and around Peterborough station looks to have won a £20m funding bid by the combined authority. Fenland Council were pipped at the post. - Credit: Archant

Peterborough looks to have won a head-to-head battle with Fenland to secure a £20m ‘levelling up’ funding bid.  

With a July deadline looming the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) is throwing its weight behind proposals by Peterborough City Council. 

CAPCA says the proposals from the city council will help finance major improvements in and around the rail station.  

Fenland District Council put forward proposals which sought funding for Wisbech Access Strategy, March Area Transport Study and Whittlesey Station.  

CAPCA wrote to all its constituent councils in March asking for transport bids for the Government Levelling Up Round 2 bids.  

Only Peterborough and Fenland put forward submissions.  

"The two transport proposals from Fenland District Council and Peterborough City Council were quite different in scale and complexity,” says a report to CAPCA board. 

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The board will recommend approval of the Peterborough Station Quarter as the only transport bid for the round 2 funding.  

CAPCA says the fund is focused on local transport projects that make a genuine difference to local areas, town centre and high street regeneration. 

The successful projects must also offer support for maintaining and expanding of cultural and heritage assets.  

The fund will prioritise places in need of economic recovery and growth, regeneration, and improved transport connectivity.  

A £20m limit has been applied but CAPCA says in exceptional cases large schemes with up a value of up to £50m are being considered.  

CAPCA has finalised its preference for Peterborough after using criteria that includes level of need, delivering net zero carbon emissions and improving air quality.  

Both the city council and Fenland District Council were asked to show how the funding would complement other funding investments, such as towns and High Street funding.  

And they needed to make an economic case “to demonstrate how it represents public value including quantitative and qualitative benefits”. 

Peterborough City Council’s proposed Peterborough Station Quarter regeneration came out on top. 

It scored on average higher than Fenland District Council’s transport proposals. 

A report to CAPCA board says, however, that the Peterborough Station Quarter programme “is challenging and extends to the maximum time allowed, by exception, within the funding prospectus”. 

It will provide the station area with new and upgraded facilities, including a new western entrance, reallocation of space for commercial and residential use and active travel improvements.  

“These are of significant local and regional value due to the accessibility Peterborough Station provides to/from other areas of the region and the rest of the UK,” says CAPCA. 

“The project shall support the future expansion of the rail network including additional platforms that Network Rail has confirmed will be required after 2030 to meet demand.” 

CAPCA says it will support Fenland in future bids.  

Peterborough Station Quarter is a £70m project, the funding bid value for this Levelling Up Fund is £48m. 

Match funding is expected from Peterborough City Council, Network Rail, LNER, and commercial and house builders. 

A key part of the project is the provision of a new western station entrance and associated car parking facilities.  

The station is currently only accessed directly from the eastern side of the rail lines, including all car parking provision.  

This means that passengers accessing the rail station often need to travel further than is necessary, adding to walking and cycling distances and increasing highway congestion and carbon emissions 

The report adds: “The Peterborough Station Quarter project will significantly enhance active travel (walking and cycling) infrastructure and connectivity between the station, town centre, and areas to the west of the station.  

“This will serve to encourage residents of Peterborough to engage in healthier modes of travel.  

“The health benefits from the active travel improvements will be quantified through assessment and reported in the bid for July 2022.” 

Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities guidance states that Levelling Up funding “would need to be spent by March 31, 2025, and exceptionally, into 2025-26 for larger schemes”.  

CAPCA says clarification of “exceptionally” has been sought, but no further guidance has been received at this stage.  

If unsuccessful in the bid for Levelling Up funding, the project will be reviewed, and consideration given to rephasing and rescoping the project whilst also exploring alternative funding sources.