A significant budget deficit means ambitious plans for Peterborough are on hold and possibly shelved.

There were plans to undertake a multi-million-pound extension of the museum in Priestgate, creating a “Bronze Age” version of York in the town. The museum would have showcased significant finds from the Must Farm Quarry and Flag Fen.

Sadly, the lack of local council funding means these plans are likely to fall through. The Towns Fund initiative is based on local councils providing matching finance.

The budget deficit means a couple of improvements plans have been dropped from the ten projects which were initially listed.

Other projects will benefit

Money earmarked for the now shelved schemes will go towards the Vine Library, Community and Culture Hub project. This project is also scaled down from its initial plan, but it should still offer a lot of help to locals.

While it is disappointing to see a significant project abandoned in Peterborough, these are challenging financial times. There would be uproar if vital council services were dropped while the council spent money on a museum extension.

Culture is essential, and it would drive long-term growth in Peterborough, but sometimes, short-term needs are too crucial to overlook.

What do people involved have to say about the change of plan?

Matthew Bradbury is the independent chair of the Peterborough Towns Fund Board, and he spoke to the Peterborough Telegraph, saying “Board members felt that it was better to reduce the number of projects down from 10 to eight, which would make sure those eight projects were robust and highly likely to secure Government funding.”

Councillor Peter Hiller, the council’s cabinet member for strategic planning and commercial strategy and investments, said: “It is regrettable that we don’t have as much money as originally planned to match fund the Government’s Towns Fund. However, the city, through various other funding streams is still investing £19.6 million, not an insignificant amount by any means. You only have to walk around our city centre to see what an exciting time it is to live in our city. The new University, Government Hub and Hilton Garden Inn Hotel will be opening later this year and, in the years, to come we have these Towns Fund projects set to transform our city even further. All these changes benefit residents and visitors and make the city an even more attractive place for further external investment.”

Given many people were looking forward to the museum extension, this is disappointing news. Hopefully, it is a scheme that can be returned to in years to come. For now though, the Vine Library development will help locals.

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