St Neots to expand by 25 per cent

A NEW secondary school, thousands of homes and more shops could be on the horizon for St Neots with the town predicted to expand by 25 per cent over the next two-and-a-half decades. A masterplan for the development of land east of the railway (the Wintrin

A NEW secondary school, thousands of homes and more shops could be on the horizon for St Neots with the town predicted to expand by 25 per cent over the next two-and-a-half decades.

A masterplan for the development of land east of the railway (the Wintringham Farm area) is being drawn up by Huntingdonshire District Council to shape the long-term future of the town - up to 2036 and beyond.

The expansion could see up to 5,000 additional homes built in the area, St Neots Town Council was told last Tuesday during a presentation at the Priory Centre.

Mike Huntingdon, HDC's team leader for urban design, said the expansion would be a balance between housing and other facilities.

"If the town is going to grow in population then we have to make sure the other facilities keep up with that growth," he said. "It is not just about houses, it is about open spaces, shops, jobs and schools. There are lessons to be learnt from other parts of the town."

The expansion could include a third senior school for St Neots. Previously the district council had said the expansion could include a science park to furthering academic research from Oxford University and a 4,000 home eco-quarter.

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While it might be possible to start work in 2012, completion of the first homes is unlikely before 2013 with development continuing beyond 2026.

However, there was concern that the expansion would need to be incorporated into the town, rather than a isolated estate on the edge of St Neots.

Town mayor Councillor Gordon Thorpe warned that any development should be closely linked to the rest of the town.

"St Neots is a great town in which to live but it is a town facing a considerable challenge to integrate and cope with the expansion in a sensible and sustainable way.

"It is my belief that the expansion, if handled correctly and providing the correct mix of retail, employment and housing opportunities, will bring great benefit to the town."

It was suggested that Cambridge Street, as an entrance to the town, needed to be improved, possibly creating a tree-lined avenue.

Sustainability for the expansion was also discussed with HDC exploring options to use the excess energy from Little Barford Power Station to power parts of the town.

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