A £25million redevelopment of Huntingdon town centre will be launched later today (Wednesday, May 14).

Huntingdon District Council signed agreements with Sainsbury's and Churchmanor Estates Company, which owns Chequers Court, on Friday (May 10) to bring forward the project.

The supermarket chain has been granted planning permission for its store in Huntingdon West, enabling the district council to build a multi-storey car park and redesign the existing car park with a new exit to the ring road.

The car park is expected to be built by December this year.

When Sainsbury's moves to its new store, the existing shop will be separated into three premises and the petrol station replaced with a major new shop unit.

In total the redevelopment will provide 110,000 sq ft of new floorspace - equivalent of two-and-a-half acres.

The additional space creates an opportunity for larger retailers to open stores.

The agreement also means that Churchmanor Estates will be able to demolish the rear section of the shopping area and redevelop the section previously occupied by Inland Revenue.

It is hoped the regeneration project will ensure that Huntingdon thrives and is well placed to attract visitors and shoppers and give greater benefits for its residents.

Malcolm Sharp, HDC managing director, said: "This is a very significant day in the development of a vibrant and viable town centre for Huntingdon.

"These plans will ensure that Huntingdon and the surrounding area develop into one of the best places locally to visit, live, work and also to invest in.

"I am delighted that the council has played a key part in this process, which has involved many years of debate and planning to bring it to this point."

Councillor Jason Ablewhite, HDC executive leader, said the regeneration of market town centres is a critical part of the council's economic vision for Huntingdonshire.

He added: "It is important that we ensure our town centres offer a good mix of retail, leisure and a full range of services which are a critical part of this quality of place.

"We already have the advantage of market towns that have retained their historic interest and independent, unique characteristics."

Robert Oxley, Sainsbury's development manager, added: "We are delighted to reach this key milestone in the regeneration of Huntingdon.

"We have always been excited by the opportunity to give something back to the Huntingdon community and are happy that now the agreement is signed, we can help facilitate the start of the town centre enhancements."

Stephen Clark, managing director of Churchmanor Estates, said: "We are pleased to be playing our part in bringing new investment to the town centre which has been galvanised by Huntingdonshire District Council's investment in a new state of the art multi-storey car park. This will benefit the town well into the future."

Representatives from each organisation will mark the start of the regeneration at Sainsbury's car park at 2pm today (Wednesday).