Why is this the first we’re hearing about this?
We’ve been working on our plans since April 2017. Our ideas began with plans for an indoor facility of some sort down at Lakeside as part of our Masterplanning exercise and following various consultations around spatial planning at that end of the Park with our partners and key stakeholders, we now have our full proposal ironed out. Further public consultation took place in November 2018 prior to us submitting our planning application and an exhibition of the plans was held in March 2019. In December 2019 we submitted further technical information to Peterborough City Council.
What was the additional information submitted in December 2019 and why?
The additional information we submitted in December 2019 was in response to a range of comments and feedback received from the public and statutory consultees following the initial application. The majority of this information was detailed technical reports or additional information to support elements of the application. We have worked with statutory consultees over the past 9 months to ensure they have the right information they need to satisfy themselves with the application and provide their responses to the planning department.
Why do we need anything additional in the park?
Typically, Nene Park is quieter during the winter months, but our hope is that a new indoor activity centre will encourage visitors year-round, in all weathers. The development of the new centre forms part of our commitment to improve the Park, allowing us to better deliver on our charitable objectives, and to offer a unique fitness experience to our visitors.
How will Nene Park Trust benefit from this?
We expect to see around a 15% increase in use of Nene Park as a result of these facilities throughout the year, with a significant impact during the winter and when the weather is poor. We anticipate the facility will turnover in excess of £1 million per year. The real value of this project is the social return which this investment would deliver above a traditional investment, through the provision of better facilities for our visitors.
How can Nene Park Trust afford to do this?
We do not anticipate the full cost of the activity centre being covered by Nene Park Trust. We are currently working with various partners to identify funding opportunities in the form of grants and we’re also talking to a number of funders and other stakeholders about sharing the cost of construction, as well as identifying sponsorship opportunities once the centre is in use. We will only go ahead with the development if it will generate enough income to make it financially sustainable to support our other activities and maintenance of the Park.
What are you doing to make the building blend with the local environment?
Whilst the majority of the building is at a level similar to the existing surrounding trees the main tower will be visible across the site and the intention is that this is designed to be an elegant sculptural feature which will be a pleasure to see. The proposed building would be around 34 metres tall at its highest point, but there are very few properties which will directly overlook the new building as it sits within a natural valley. We have undertaken a range of visual impact assessments to ensure we understand how the building will sit in the landscape. The materials used for the cladding are currently under consideration to ensure that the building fits well within its local environment, and we will also be planting a substantial number of additional trees around the site to replace the small amount removed and ensure the project has a net environmental gain.
Why are you putting an Olympic-standard climbing wall in the middle of a Country Park?
Our proposed site for the new activity centre is down by an existing hub of activity at Lakeside. Our visitors come to Nene Park for a variety of different activities – whether that’s dog walking, education activities, watersports, fishing, cycling or running – activity is a central theme to all of that and this is an opportunity for us to put Peterborough and Nene Park on the map on a much larger scale. Nene Park stretches from close to the city centre out to Wansford and within this there are areas which are kept specifically for quiet enjoyment and other areas for more active uses. We are very keen to maintain that peaceful refuge which many of our visitors come to enjoy at Ferry Meadows, which is why all of this activity is being contained to one area of the Park.
Are you providing more car parking spaces if you are expecting more people to use the Park?
We will build a new, larger car park which would provide over 100 extra spaces, between the current car park and overflow car park on Oak Meadow. The new car park will also have a permeable and natural coloured surface to fit in with the landscape and cause minimal environment disturbance. None of the Oak trees on the meadow will be removed as part of the project.
What is going to happen to the current car park at Lakeside?
The new indoor facility is being built upon the existing car park at Lakeside, and in fact the space around the centre will be greener – since this is currently a car park, we will transform it to put in place more grass and plant more trees in that area.
How will you cope with the additional traffic using the road into the Park?
As part of the project we will be improving our traffic management creating a one-way system through the new car park and into the overflow car park. This will enable smoother movement of traffic during peak periods and reduce the amount of two-way traffic on the narrowest section of road. We will also take the opportunity to undertake improvements to Lakeside road at the same time.
You’re going to be affecting the local habitat, how are you going to mitigate the impact?
Due to the fact that the site will be based upon the current Lakeside car park, there is very little habitat value on the current site. Our surveys have shown that there are no priority species in the area which will be affected and there will therefore be very little impact to wildlife and the habitat surrounding the site. The vast majority of trees will be retained around the building with substantial additional tree planting planned. The proposed building will also have minimal exterior lighting to ensure safety for visitors but minimise detrimental effects on wildlife, also reducing light pollution in the Park. The building will also provide habitat through provision of nesting boxes and the soft landscaping proposed around the new arrival area is designed to provide a sustained food source for pollinators and improved visual interest for our visitors.