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Peterborough – the UK’s fastest growing city

Written by Fiona

April 25 2021

Peterborough in the East of England region of Cambridgeshire is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities. With a shift away from its industrial past towards the financial, environmental goods and services sectors and a massive focus on regeneration, Peterborough has seen a remarkable change in fortunes in recent years, although it has still managed to maintain its sense of heritage and cultural identity.

The redevelopment of the historic city centre has also introduced impressive new amenities to tempt homebuyers alongside impressive transport links, the abundance of great schools and a variety of leisure activities for all ages.  

The sustainable lifestyle is also a big focus, with Peterborough said to have the most houses with solar panels on the roof of any city or town in the UK in 2020. The Peterborough Integrated Renewables Infrastructure Project is also well underway and hopes to help the UK reach its Net Zero ambitions.

An extensive plan to create thousands of new homes is also in the pipeline and with an average house price of £212,887 over the last 12 months and one of the lowest council tax levels in the UK, Peterborough is a tempting proposition all round. 

When it comes to transport links, the city is extremely well connected. You can be in the centre of London by trains in 37 minutes, with the average return ticket costing just £45 and Peterborough train station is only a 10-minute walk from the town centre. There are also direct trains to Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool, York, Leicester and Edinburgh and a frequent service to Gatwick Airport in two hours. 

Peterborough is conveniently located next to the A1 motorway with links to Edinburgh, Birmingham, Newcastle and more including a 65-minute journey to Stansted Airport. Driving around the city itself is relatively easy, and the town even offers a car share service to enable you to find people who use the same commute and therefore reduce your carbon footprint. Alternatively, the local bus service is affordable and reliable covering a range of routes and there is a National Express coach service to London Victoria. 

For cyclists, Peterborough promotes the Green Wheel Development and the refurbished bicycle scheme Travel Choices provides you with a fully serviced bike plus accessories, local cycle maps and cycle training. 

Peterborough Catherdral.
Central Park gardens. Credit: Alan Murray-Rust

Peterborough is popular with families

Peterborough is a popular choice for families with 71 schools and colleges to choose from, 85% of which have been rated either “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted. 

For primary settings, Hampton Hargate Primary School and Heritage Park Primary School are both highly rated. For secondary schools and further education, The Kings School has been named “East Anglia’s State Secondary School of the Year” and Arthur Mellows Village College and Peterborough College are both popular locally. 

In terms of higher education, the University Centre Peterborough is set on a £10 million campus in the heart of city with an extensive portfolio of courses to choose from. Then of course you have the esteemed Cambridge University and Anglia Ruskin University’s Cambridge Campus both less than an hour away.  

Peterborough also has a good choice of nurseries and a variety of baby/ toddler/ pre-school groups to keep your social calendar jam-packed. Have a look here for some ideas.  

For shopping, the area around Cathedral Square is the place to be as it’s situated in the middle of many popular shops and eateries. There are several retail parks in Peterborough, but the main one for all your high-street brands is Queensgate Shopping Centre. Not only do they have all the big names (Fat Face, H&M, John Lewis etc), but they have heaps of activities going on for the whole family, including the Empire Cinema (part of the £60 million extension in 2021). Serpentine Green is another haven for shopaholics. 

Peterborough has many dining options, from the big chains to smaller independent eateries. An area called St Johns Square has become the new “food centre”. When Polly Met Fergie is a popular vegan restaurant and for the meat eaters, try Five Lads. For a civilised afternoon tea try the “no frills” Lightbox café which also turns into a buzzing drinks and music venue at the weekend and keeps going until 1am! 

The main attraction in Peterborough has got to be the 12th century Cathedral with its spectacular gothic façade. This was the burial site of Henry VIII’s first wife and has become one of the most significant medieval abbeys in the country. There are lots of events, tours and school visits available and Peterborough Museum is another popular spot providing a detailed history of the local area.

Impressively, Peterborough also has the highest ratio of green space per person in the UK, with 72 parks surrounding the town. Many head to Nene Countryside Park and Ferry Meadows for the kids play areas, horse riding, walking trails, climbing, cycling and water sports. For some true escapism and tranquil surroundings Eye Green Nature reserve is also popular.  

When it comes to community events, Peterborough’s reputation as a festival city is cemented in the likes of the Peterborough Beer Festival, the Peterborough Gin Festival and the colourful Diwali Festival.

Cathedral Square also has an annual Christmas light switch on every December which is quite the event and this coincides with the Cathedral Christmas Craft and Gift Market. There is also a Farmers Market in the square every 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month and a Vegan Market with over 50 stalls of ethical and sustainable products. 

For a bit of culture, head to one of the city’s 3 theatres, all with a range of performances and shows. The Key Theatre has a lovely riverside restaurant and bar for pre or post drinks and nibbles. 

For the sports fans, Peterborough United Football Club and the Peterborough Phantoms ice hockey team are both doing well in their respective leagues and the Phantom’s home at Planet Ice is open to professionals and amateurs of all ages. Families will also love Boundless Fun, an indoor trampoline park and soft play mecca and for a slightly more sedate sporting activity, head to one of Peterborough’s ten golf courses.  

In general, Peterborough is a safe place to live and ticks so many boxes. Locals feel a sense of community and security and there is a hardworking, multi-agency Safer Peterborough Partnership in place.

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