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Get ready for a new look city centre in Peterborough as café culture is coming with the expansion of al fresco dining facilities next year.

A successful bid for extra government cash means city centre cafes, bars and restaurants around Cathedral Square can add to their outdoor seating with awnings and lighting to create a new look centre.

It’s been a long term dream to create a more European café culture vibe in Peterborough emphasised by the pandemic and the need to space diners and drinkers safely. Now the idea has been given an £800,000 boost following a bid by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

The grant was approved as part of the Growth Deal funding (Local Growth Fund, LGF) which is provided by Government to local areas to invest in projects that will create new jobs, increase productivity, and stimulate economic growth.

It’ll be used to invest in awnings and modern LED lighting in the city centre to extend the alfresco dining/drinking season into spring, summer and autumn in 2021 and most importantly help hospitality businesses to trade safely, in line with current Covid-19 guidance. New artwork and city wide Wi-Fi will also be set up. This project will help transform Cathedral Square so it becomes a more Covid secure destination that will attract people from all over the region.

The investment will create a consistent look and feel to the city centre, enhance cultural landmarks such as the Guildhall and create LED guided walkways for night-time visitors to the city.

Councillor Marco Cereste cabinet member for street scene at Peterborough City Council, said: “It was originally our plan to help businesses deliver a European café style culture as they re-opened after lockdown in June. However, we quickly recognised that many were understandably nervous about investing in outdoor seating due to uncertainty on forecasted trade over the remaining summer months.

“So instead we are switching our attention to 2021 and made a bid for this funding to make it cheaper and easier for businesses than ever before to extend their alfresco dining/drinking season right through from spring to summer, like they do in many European cities.”

Peterborough City Council worked with Peterborough Positive, Opportunity Peterborough and local businesses to make the application after it was recognised as an opportunity for pubs, restaurants and cafés to receive an additional economic boost to help recover from Covid-19 by attracting additional visitors.

Mayor James Palmer, from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, said: “It is exciting developments like this that show imagination and innovation, that will attract people back to our towns and city centres and help stop their decline. I very much welcome this well thought out, Covid secure project to help transform Cathedral Square into an attractive recreational destination and am delighted that the Combined Authority Board voted unanimously to fund this.”

Mark Broadhead, Chair of Peterborough Positive, said: “We are delighted to learn that the bid to promote a café culture in Peterborough has been successful and are proud to have played an integral role along with the Council. Peterborough Positive continues to support city businesses as they navigate the on-going challenging environment that everyone is facing as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and we very much hope to play a key role in developing the café culture, helping to attract additional investment into the city.”

The latest data from Centre For Cities shows Peterborough has already bounced back to 97 per cent of its footfall (end of August 2020) since Covid-19 – well above the national average.

The money follows a £1million boost for parks and open spaces in Peterborough from the Government’s Towns Fund which was announced last week. A decision on the remaining £25million from the Towns Fund is expected late October.


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