WHATEVER impact the crisis of consumer confidence is having in the housing market, the commercial sector is holding up well in Huntingdonshire, says St Neots-based property specialist D H Barford and Company. For many years Barfords - whose sale and lettings boards have been familiar sights in our market towns' high streets for nearly 35 years - has stood behind The Hunts Post Huntingdonshire Retailer of the Year Award. Director Phil Halmshaw said this week: "At a time of increasing economic uncertainty, Barfords remain positive about the prospects locally in the event of a sustained downturn in the national economy. "We feel that Huntingdonshire is extremely well placed to deal with an economic downturn. In location terms, the towns of Huntingdon, St Ives and St Neots are all in highly accessible positions close to the A1 and A14. So businesses seeking to relocate, together with existing growing companies will regard the area positively. "The proximity to Cambridge is another positive influence. The dualling of the A428 between Cambourne and Cambridge has reduced the travelling time between St Neots and Cambridge significantly. The guided busway linking Huntingdon, St Ives and Cambridge is also due for completion within the next 12 months," he added. "These factors, coupled with an under-supply of quality business and industrial space and a potential shortage of land for new commercial development, all point towards a thriving local economy which should be able to stave off any wider downturn." He said Barfords had experienced a particularly good level of enquiries for industrial space over the last few weeks and, although retail and office enquiries are fewer, a "decent number" of sales and lettings were still being concluded. "The High Street is certainly seeing reduced customer activity at present, and times are becoming tougher for some retailers. The three Ouse Valley towns are all tight in terms of available retail space, so again the short and medium term view is of continuing steady demand against a backdrop of limited supply. "So all in all, a positive view from the sharp end that augers well for Huntingdonshire's business economy in the short and medium term." D H Barford was established in 1974 and is one of the area's leading commercial property and planning consultants. The company's one office is in St Neots and it believes it is unique in that it provides specialist advice dedicated primarily to businesses in Huntingdon, St Ives, St Neots and the surrounding villages. The company regards itself as the leading local commercial property specialist. It converted from a partnership to a limited company in November 2004, under directors Philip Halmshaw, Martin Page and Sheila Smyth. Founding partner David Barford has retired from the business but remains a consultant.