RE-DEVELOPMENT of Huntingdon s Chequers Court retail area could be close to getting back on track, with news that the former Inland Revenue offices on the northern side of the court could be demolished early next year. That would pave the way for comprehe

RE-DEVELOPMENT of Huntingdon's Chequers Court retail area could be close to getting back on track, with news that the former Inland Revenue offices on the northern side of the court could be demolished early next year.

That would pave the way for comprehensive re-development of the 1960s mall by owners Churchmanor Estates - for which planners at Huntingdonshire District Council have been waiting for years.

Churchmanor director Howard White told The Hunts Post: "It's a very complicated scheme, but it's still progressing, and we have another meeting with HDC this week.

"We have been slowly sorting out the Inland Revenue building with short-term leasing and juggling the appropriate time to demolish it, which could be early next year.

Planners hope the developer will be encouraged to kick-start the re-development after the Highways Agency withdrew its objection to a proposal for around 1,200 homes near Spittals on traffic management grounds.

The proposed Northbridge development, to the north of the A141 between Spittals Way and Great Stukeley, is now expected to be approved in principle by HDC later this year.

Another encouraging development for Churchmanor - and for development of the land between Huntingdon town centre and the railway line - is that approval is also expected for a new £2.5-3million link road between Ermine Street and Brampton Road that will roughly halve traffic on Huntingdon ring road and could be open by Christmas 2011.

That will make Huntingdon a more attractive shopping venue, and the potential new residents of Northbridge should give Churchmanor an added incentive to press ahead with Chequers Court.

HDC's head of planning services Steve Ingram said his department had been working on updated design guidance, "and we are positively encouraging Churchmanor to deliver a new, enhanced scheme".

Some shadow was cast over part-funding of the link road when the Government cut Cambridgeshire's Housing Growth Fund allocation for 2010-11 by almost half. But Mr Ingram is confident that Cambridgeshire Horizons - the not-for-profit company set up to deliver £4billion of infrastructure needed for 75,000 new homes in the county by the mid-2020s - will still back the scheme financially from the reduced allocation.

The new road will link up with a network that will be created when the A14 viaduct over the railway is demolished as the last part of the £1.2billion A14 improvement scheme between Ellington in west Huntingdonshire and Fen Ditton, north-east of Cambridge. The scheme includes a new southern bypass of Huntingdon, running from Buckden to Fen Drayton, where the road will rejoin the existing A14 alignment that is due to be widened to six lanes, with up to four lanes of parallel local roads.

In the meantime, Churchmanor has let part of the former Grafton Project premises in Chequers Court, where a new pet shop is expected to open shortly. The company is also in negotiations over a lease for a nearby unit.