Luxury housing beats cinema

AN INITIAL report for the redevelopment of the St Neots Priory area has been labelled disappointing after it suggested the site was right for housing, and wrong for a cinema. Commissioned by Huntingdonshire District Council and St Neots Town Council (HD

AN INITIAL report for the redevelopment of the St Neots Priory area has been labelled "disappointing" after it suggested the site was right for housing, and wrong for a cinema.

Commissioned by Huntingdonshire District Council and St Neots Town Council (HDC), the report looked into the rejuvenation of the Priory area.

Currently, the site includes the library, rowing club, snooker club and the Priory Centre, home to the town council offices.

The report found the "least risky and most immediately deliverable option" would be a residential development because of the site's waterside location. It highlighted luxury flats or apartments as a possibility.


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But town councillor Derek Giles told The Hunts Post he did not want houses on the site and he was "very disappointed by the findings of the report".

"One has to ask what the people of St Neots are going to gain by turning the area into expensive houses. If it goes ahead we will lose a community facility, town council office, open space and for what - houses that nobody in the town can afford. We need to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to make St Neots a vibrant town."

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Town mayor Cllr Bob Eaton was in agreement, but said the redevelopment was a long way off. "Obviously we do not want houses there as we want the riverside to be for everyone. What we must remember is this report is more a debating document."

Other options highlighted for the area included community facilities, building bars, cafes, and restaurants, as well a hotel and marina. Town and district councillor Paul Ursell said the report held no surprises. "What is pleasing is that report has recognised that community facilities are needed."

The idea of a cinema was ruled out by the report as it was found unlikely to be deliverable or viable and that a cinema building could "end up standing empty".

This could be a blow to the town council, which has been looking for potential cinema sites. But Cllr Eaton said the idea of a cinema was still being looked at.

Cllr Peter Bucknell, Huntingdonshire District Council's executive councillor for planning strategy said HDC was "committed to working with the town council to consider whether a cinema would be feasible".

Commercial use for the Priory area was ruled out because of the lack of demand for central office accommodation, and because much of the site lies on a flood plain.

The report will be used by the town and district councils to assess the best possible option for the redevelopment of the site.

INFORMATION: What would you like to see developed on the Priory site? Send your views to editor@huntspost.co.uk or write to: The Hunts Post, 30 High Street, Huntingdon, Cambs, PE29 3TB.

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