- 3rd fasted growing city in the UK by population (1.5% annual growth)
- 4th highest housing stock growth (1.1%)
- 7th highest proportion of private sector jobs (3.6 private to 1.0 public)
- 45 minutes to Kings Cross by train (38 minutes expected by 2018)
- Fasted commute time by car of any UK city
- Currently ranked 37 for retail spend by Costar
- It takes a median average of just 13 days to agree a property sale in Peterborough
LOCATION, DIVERSITY AND ADAPTABILITY ARE PETERBOROUGH’S STRENGTHS
Peterborough is a great place to live, work, visit and do business. It has ambitious growth plans and is well placed logistically and geographically. It also has a diverse workforce and robust infrastructure. Most importantly, Peterborough’s can-do attitude extends to attracting new and innovative ways of attracting investment and growth – all focused on building a better city for the future.
Peterborough’s location 70 miles to the north of London perhaps defines its strength. 45 minutes by train from the capital city and only 30 miles to Cambridge, the city is in excellent reach of these centres of commerce, culture and learning while remaining an affordable place with a high quality of life and identity of its own.
The population of the city and its environs was 193,740 in mid-2014 when it was deemed the fastest growing city in the UK. By 2016 Peterborough had dropped to the 3rd fastest growing city but still boasted a growth rate of 1.5% annually.
Peterborough has a vibrant culture and economy steeped in rich history. It fared better than average through the recent recessions, with unemployment rates and property value drops much less than the rest of the UK. It benefits from its location as a crossroads, fostering transportation and distribution centre industries, such as IKEA, Tesco and Amazon.
City leaders approach the future of the cathedral city with a sense of optimism. Consider how housing stock increased in the area by 5.9 per cent in the years 2007-2012; this compares to just 3.7 per cent throughout England, where housing shortages are a pressing concern. This increase in housing inventory enables a median house-price-to-median-earnings ratio that is 20 per cent lower than the rest of the country.
In its 2016 report, the UK Centre for Cities Outlook which focuses on the UK’s 64 largest towns and cities, ranked Peterborough 4th in housing stock growth and 7th in ratio of private sector to public sector employment. Between 2004 and 2014 Peterborough saw growth rates of more than double the national average.
Today, a £1 billion redevelopment plan looks to guide redevelopment of the city centre and surroundings; this programme is still under review. The strength of the local economy, its diverse population and growing importance as a transportation and distribution centre promise to keep the growth at a pace, coupled within inward investment from both foreign and domestic sources.
Peterborough has a diverse population, having welcomed a large influx of Italian immigrants in the mid-20th century, subsequently followed by Commonwealth country arrivals. This, in combination with geography and affordability, provide the city with a healthy degree of place competitiveness as evidenced by several factors: good roads, rail and air transport facilities; fast Internet broadband capability; and relatively good land available for commercial and residential development.
Primary and secondary education in Peterborough is a strong attribute. While the city has no university, it is currently forging links with Anglia Ruskin University through its further education colleges – Peterborough Regional College and City College Peterborough. These help with the supply of important skills to the region’s businesses. The Regional College is ranked in the top 5 per cent of UK colleges
In 1992, Peterborough was designated as one of four UK ‘Environment Cities.’ This has had several impactful results on the city as it takes on a leadership role in these key areas of sustainability:
- Business – More than 350 firms operate as environmental businesses in Peterborough.
- Green space – The city has one of the highest ratios of green land per capita in all of the UK.
- Education – A full 92 per cent of the city’s schools provide environmental education.
- Participation in solutions – The major shopping area, Queensgate, achieved 67 per cent recycling rates as of 2012. Households on average save 575 kilograms of recyclable material annually, one of the highest amounts in the UK, according to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.
- Zero carbon homes – Peterborough is a leader in these ultra-green residences.
- Cycling – With a 45-mile network of bicycling routes around the city for commuters and leisure cyclists, including an off-road link that crosses Shanks Millennium Bridge (traversing the River Nene) between Peterborough and nearby Whittlesey.
Perhaps what best defines Peterborough is its adaptability – to shifting demographics, economic and even climatological factors. Its historic Peterborough Cathedral (completed in 1375) stands as a solid indicator of the city’s historic roots. But as a 21st century city, Peterborough is poised to grow and prosper.
PETERBOROUGH IS A TOP TEN CITY
* Republished with permission from Invest in Peterborough
- 1st fastest-growing city by population. Annual growth rate 1.6%
- 2nd city with the highest private sector employment growth with 5.4% change
- 5th city with the highest housing stock growth with a 0.9% change
- 7th city with the highest proportion of private sector employment with a 3:6 private to public ratio
- 8th city with the highest rises in house prices with a 3.5% annual growth rate
- 8th city for annual mean house price growth (2012-13): 3.61%
PETERBOROUGH IS AN ECONOMIC POWERHOUSE
* Republished with permission from Invest in Peterborough
- Fall in JSA Claimant Count figures from 5.2% – 3.4% (May 2013-2014)
- Employment rising from 69.12% – 70.81% (2012-2013)
- Average weekly earnings £464.50 in 2013 – increased from £453.38 in previous year
- Growth in mean house prices (2012-13) – £5,500. Ranked 13th
THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN PETERBOROUGH FARES CONSIDERABLY BETTER THAN AVERAGE IN THE UK. THE REASONS ARE VARIED, INCLUDING A FORTUITOUS LOCATION AS WELL AS FOCUSED EFFORTS BY CITY LEADERS.
For several reasons, the economic forecast for Peterborough is strong. This is easily read by its current economic output (GVA), employment statistics and other empirically identifiable factors such as business start-ups.
But certain geographic and cultural features naturally lend themselves to creating a robust economic future, as do initiatives by political and business leaders that are strongly focused on growth. The city weathered the 2008-2009 and 2011-2012 recessions with better-than-average business failure and unemployment statistics. By 2012, the number of new business start-ups numbered 1381 and in 2013 it was 1503.
While the city historically pegged its fortunes to a handful of industries (brick-making, transportation, etc.) the economy of the 21st century is one characterised by diversity, innovative small and medium-sized enterprise (SMEs) and a handful of large, global businesses (including an IKEA distribution facility). According to the Peterborough Telegraph, the company that currently is the biggest employer in the city is BGL Group, one of the UK’s largest consumer insurance and financial services firms.
What stimulates this diversity of enterprise, resilience and growth? Consider the following constellation of forces driving the emergence of Peterborough as a growth capital for business, population and development:
Additionally, Peterborough’s population skews towards youthful (the average age is lower than that of the UK overall) and slightly more diverse. While lacking its own major university and with a current outflow of students to universities outside the city, a “multiversity” initiative brings educational resources from a range of institutions to provide knowledge that is targeted to local business needs. Also, the Sustainable Community Strategy takes a measured, strategic approach to land use, preservation and development over the next 50 years. As should be clear, this is not accidental or happenstance growth. A confluence of good geography, history and political and commercial leadership focus on making the region attractive to businesses, people, institutions and investment.
- Entrepreneurialism– The nature of business in the Peterborough economy is entrepreneurial, with 70 per cent of local businesses employing four or fewer people, according to the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Growth Prospectus (Economic Position Statement, August 2012). A poll conducted at the beginning of 2015 by the business financing group Liberis found that 69 per cent of SMEs are confident about the business climate, 51 per cent of them expect their businesses to grow and 26 are looking for funding to help with that growth.
- Business support– Opportunity Peterborough (OP) is a skills-matching service, marketing programme, planning and economic data collection-analyses service working to the benefit of the local economy.
- Transportation and warehousing – The city has historically attracted inward investment focusing on warehousing and distribution centres for national and global companies, due to its geographical location and proximity to rail and road networks.
- Industry diversity– Six manufacturing firms are strong players in the local economy, but the area is home to companies in a broader variety of industry sectors that include food and beverages, retailing, healthcare, professional and financial services, and environmental businesses. Technology businesses are currently underrepresented – which suggests further opportunity for growth. Also, due to its affiliation with both Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire, the city benefits from being in the spheres of commerce operating and based in both counties/regions.
- Homebuilding– The city has outpaced the rest of the country in homebuilding, fostering a strong construction industry; according to the council’s five year supply of deliverable housing report, the construction of 1,216 homes in 2013 will be followed by increases up to 2,089 homes (per year) in 2019, accounting for new-built dwellings as well as office conversions to flats. Already robust construction is attributable to a strong link between the Homes and Communities Agency, Affordable Housing Providers and the Peterborough City Council. Projected numbers of 20,000 new jobs and 25,000 new homes over the next decade (source: Peterborough City Council Local Investment Plan 2011) mean this industry will remain very active for the foreseeable future.