HOUSING developer will need to prove that its plans to massively expand St Neots by up to 1,000 homes will have benefits for the town when it holds a public consultation next week.

Gallagher Estates is looking to build to the east of Love's Farm as part of a long-term strategy that will eventually see the development of 227 hectares of land by 2026.

The proposed development will include civic spaces for community use, care homes providing up to 300 beds, employment space, play areas, community allotments and orchards.

Following the consultation, an outline planning application will be submitted to Huntingdonshire District Council.

However, Gallagher will be asked to show how the scheme will bring "tangible benefits" to St Neots.

District Councillor Steve van de Kerkhove, who has been opposed to the eastern expansion for a long time, said the people of the St Neots should also oppose the development.

"I just can't see why St Neots has to take on such a big development," he told The Hunts Post. "What we need is a huge upgrade in infrastructure, some proper schooling and some more police officers to cope with this. And we won't see a penny of the money from the New Homes Bonus. It's just going to destroy the character of St Neots."

Mayor of St Neots, Barry Chapman said he could not see a problem with the scheme: "I don't see what's wrong with the proposals as long as they deliver the facilities that are promised and are managed properly."

The first phase of the eastern expansion began with Love's Farm in 2006, although this estate is still awaiting its promised community centre.

Town councillor Carl Jones said: "I hope the developer will learn from the issues around the build programme on Love's Farm and come up with a better plan to complete the site in a logical manner. I would also like to see more of the community facilities incorporated early in the build. I do not want to see 900 homes being built with no infrastructure or community facilities."

INFORMATION: The consultation, which will be a Q&A session and presentation by Gallaghers Estates, takes place at Reedmans Bar, St Neots Football Club, Hunts Post Community Stadium, Kester Way, on Tuesday (February 21) between 11am and 12.30pm.