Peterborough United has been planning to build a modern facility for several years. To make this possible, the club needs changes in the spatial plan. Much can be decided on this matter in May.
The Embankment is the best in every way
Weston Homes Stadium has served Peterborough United since 1934. The venue has undergone many modernization works, including the last one in 2014. Further revamp is technically difficult to carry out due to lack of space. There is also no economic justification for such actions. It is much more profitable to build a completely new stadium.
The club's Canadian co-owners began initial planning for the construction of the new facility three years ago when they bought 50 percent of the shares from Darragh MacAnthony. They chose the Nene River embankment in the city centre as the best location for the new stadium. Many financial analyses confirm that it is a good site for this type of investment.
The temporary name of the new arena is Embankment Stadium. The club's authorities recognize Groupama Aréna in Budapest as a source of inspiration, although the concept of the stadium in Peterborough is a slight modification of it.
Other sites for construction are also being reviewed, such as the Greyhound Stadium area, an area near the East of England arena and plots of land north of the Embankment close to the residential areas.
Construction planning has not yet reached its formal stage. In order to move things forward, it is necessary to change the spatial development plan and transform some of the green areas into a building plot, enabling the creation of a venue.
Much will depend on the May local elections. The Tories now have a majority on the city council and are rather sympathetic to the creation of the new facility. The city planning committee, controlled by the Conservative Party, has not yet commented on the stadium. But silence does not necessarily mean that they are against it.
A sign of the goodwill of the council is the conclusion of an agreement with the club in February 2020 on cooperation on the construction of a new facility. However, if the Labour Party or the Liberal Democrats come to power, the prospect of building a stadium in the above-mentioned location is highly uncertain.
Football stadium is not enough
The Tories have one important condition. They want the stadium to host a variety of events all year round and be friendly to all residents, especially families with children. The venue and its surroundings would serve the local community as a meeting and entertainment spot for at least 250 days a year. This may be considered a way of appeasing criticism for trying to build a stadium in a popular leisure area.
Educational institutions related to the expansion of Anglia Ruskin University would also be built around. The club conducts talks with university authorities about a potential partnership in the field of investment activities on the Embankment.
Opponents of the project, now forming an online community into the thousands, have concerns about the heavy traffic in the area, insufficient parking spaces and the degradation of the recreational area of Peterborough, which prides itself on being one of the greenest cities in England.
The club has to wait for the election results and if the political option favourable to its plans wins, it can submit a planning application. The assumptions of the Local Plan LP51 complicated the aspirations of "The Posh" to move to The Embankment. They will have to apply for a so-called "exception to policy" that can change the spatial plan.
According to this document, the Embankment is to remain a green area, accessible to all, with recreational and cultural facilities. Any construction investment will only be possible from the north. Importantly, the designed stadium must not obstruct the view of the iconic cathedral.
Peterborough United needs 9 acres (36,000 square metres) of land for the investment. The optimistic scenario for Embankment Stadium assumes that planning will take 6 months and then construction works will last 18-24 months. In the event of failure, “The Posh” will remain in the old stadium that Canadian co-owners took over from the city on March 31.
Author: Tomasz Sobura