Wednesday, February 12, 2014
The future looks bright for St Neots as a “desirable place to work and play” following the publication of a draft document which could release millions of pounds of investment money for the town.
Weds, Feb 13:
Waitrose, St Neots – 11am-1.30pm
Sat, Feb 15:
Councillors’ surgery, Priory Centre
Sat, Feb 22:
Farmers’ Market – 10am-1pm
Tues, Feb 25:
Likeminded Network meeting, Creative Exchange, Longsands Academy – 7.30pm
Thurs, Feb 27:
St Neots Museum – 10-11.30am
Thurs, March 6:
St Neots Library – 10-11.30am
Sat, March 8:
Farmers’ Market – 10am-1pm
Thurs, March 13:
Bumps and Babes, Eaton Socon Children’s Centre – 10am
The Neighbourhood Plan, which sets out a strategy for future development, regeneration and conservation, is based on residents’ views and includes key policies ranging from employment opportunities to public transport and parking.
St Neots Town Council, which has produced the plan, also puts high on the agenda the protection of employment land and the growth of the retail sector. Councillors are particularly keen to attract fashion shops, food and drink outlets, franchises and supermarkets.
Transport in the town is included in the plan. On the roads, securing the dualling of the A428 and a northern bypass between the A428 and the A1 is seen as a must. Other suggested improvements include the development of the Oxford to Cambridge railway line with a stop at St Neots and more ‘joined up’ bus services for rail commuters.
The plan also hopes to tackle parking issues by maintaining or increasing the number of car parking spaces. At the railway station the council would like to see improved parking facilities and traffic flow.
To encourage footfall in the town, the plan proposes the adoption of a 30-minute free parking, while continuing free parking in the early evening. In addition, they want minimum parking requirements introduced at new residential developments - with at least one car parking space per bedroom for each home as a starting point.
Other suggested projects include pedestrianising the High Street – a move that has always been thought to be unattainable while the town has a single river crossing – plus opening up Priory Lane and implementing a one-way system.
Leisure and entertainment – a particularly important area for residents – included proposals for an outdoor theatre at Riverside Park as well as the reinstatement of a crazy golf course and a boat hiring facility.
The plan also reinforces the council’s support for a new swimming pool on the site of the previous complex.
New open spaces and improvements to the approaches to the town are also highlighted,
Councillor Louie Ruck, chairman of the development and growth committee, said: “Maintaining employment land and designated areas in all new applications is really important, but in terms of what’s important to people who live here, and the new people that will come to live here, it is the town centre area, the parks and keeping the vitality of St Neots.
“This plan is a 15-year plan. There are an awful lot of things that don’t happen overnight as we need to work with other agencies, but hopefully we can get some projects through quickly such as the bandstand and crazy golf course. We are looking more at seven years with the larger scale projects.
“Now we need the public to give us their thoughts so that we know whether we have got what they originally said right.
“We want St Neots to be a desirable place to work and play – we want people to see this as a destination of choice.”
The next phase of the public consultation started on Friday (February 7) and gives people six weeks to review the plans and register opinions. The closing date is March 21. Residents can submit comments online or at a number of roadshow events.
If a Neighbourhood Plan is put in place, it will give the town greater access to funds from the Community Infrastructure Levy – money paid by developers of new homes. St Neots could get up to 25 per cent of the fund.
Once the plan has been completed by the end of March it will be submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council and then subjected to an independent examination. This will be followed by a public referendum where more than 50 per cent of voters will need to be in favour before the plan can be brought into force.
INFORMATION: Go to www.stneots-tc.gov.uk/neighbourhood-plan to submit comments and for more information.