Queensgate Shopping Centre – Peterborough

Alot of the posts up to this point have focussed on examples of various different types of really good design. Now I have an example of really quite nasty design.

Herald the Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough. I spent 1.5 hours chugging through the countryside on the train today because the government has kindly put the nearest Identity and Passport Services office outside London about as far away from anyone as possible. In fairness I did get seen pretty quick (only a 10 minute wait), but the chap processing my passport did launch into a rather strong interrogation. I’d obviously sparked his suspicions because I’d left my postcode off the application form by accident and I wanted the passport couriered to my work address. In fact, as (apparently) my photographs look quite different he then wanted to see my drivers licence which of course I didn’t have. Hold up – you’re the government – can’t you have a look at my drivers licence on your computer… turns out that they can, why stress me out? He had a stack of red cards that I am sure mark you for execution or something. But I digress…..

Because the trains are at annoying intervals between Ipswich and Peterborough I had to leave at 12 for a 3 o’clock appointment then after about 15 minutes in the office I had to hang around until 5.45. Key Ros who heroically took the afternoon off to escort me to the frightening government offices – girl + boyfriend + time = shopping (or at least window shopping). So off we went to the Queensgate Shopping Centre.

This place is a cathedral to the 1980’s. Its sort of been designed to fit into an irregular vacant plot in the town centre – now this could be done in a stylish and well thought out way – but alas not, its a central cavern with corridors splaying out like an octopus. Its also absurdly car centric, its right in the middle of the town at the centre of all public transport but it has a 3500 space car park tacked on the end, thereby encouraging huge volumes of cars into the city centre. Its 5 minutes from a train station that has quite incredible connections (Liverpool, all destinations to Glasgow, Manchester, London, Ipswich, Norwich and stansted airport) but theres no well defined pedestrian access from the train station (actually the train station is another design disaster, but that’s another story).

So what makes it a paragon of 1980’s design? Well its mostly clad in cheap looking cream marble, the shop facades are surrounded with high mirror shine steel, there are lots of mirrors, and there’s no natural light outside the main atrium.

On the plus side it has a fine selection of shops including a John Lewis, a Superdry and decent sized Topshop/man combo and a pretty big Republic – not to mention the usual favourites like Schuh and Paperchase.

I can’t resist including a picture of Peterborough Railway Station. Try not to vomit.


PS – Apologies to any Peterborugh-ians that might be reading – the rest of your city is really quite nice.










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