MAJOR redevelopment of Huntingdon town centre, with more and better shops and a huge increase in car parking, could start within a year. Hidden in Huntingdonshire District Council s draft budget is a £3million provision for additional town centre car park

MAJOR redevelopment of Huntingdon town centre, with more and better shops and a huge increase in car parking, could start within a year.

Hidden in Huntingdonshire District Council's draft budget is a £3million provision for additional town centre car parking, something that is also part of its design brief proposals for the Chequers Court area, published late last year.

For years, HDC has been pushing Ipswich-based Churchmanor Estates, which owns Chequers Court, to demolish the 1960s elements of the area and deliver a vision of a vibrant, family-friendly expanded town centre.

With leases on the old concrete-clad buildings due to expire later this year, and with short-term lettings easily terminated on much of the rest of the area, Churchmanor needs to submit acceptable redevelopment plans - HDC's design brief indicates clearly what is expected - for the area to be transformed.

New designs along with plans for a new multi-storey car park could then attract quality shops, restaurants and other retail outlets to agreeing in principle to moving into the soon-to-be-transformed town centre.

Recent experience has shown that local people are happy to shop in Huntingdon, where footfall has increased steadily over recent years against a declining national trend. The prospect of extra shopping opportunities would reinforce that trend.

But that is just part of the vision for a revitalised Huntingdon town centre.

Work is expected to start next year on a new £3m link road between Brampton Road, near the railway station, and Ermine Street, opening up the whole of the area west of the current town centre for more shops, offices and homes.

Much of the land is owned by engineering company Rustons (RECO) and insurance companies, though The Hunts Post believes a parcel of land in the area has been acquired by Stanton Retail, the property and development arm of supermarket giant Tesco.

Rival Sainsbury's has also expressed interest in re-locating to the west of the town centre, though it could decide to stay put in Chequers Court.