Work begins to make Huntingdonshire towns 'fit for the future'

The St Neots Street Food Festival took place on the Market Square on Sunday.

The St Neots Street Food Festival took place on the Market Square on Sunday. - Credit: HUNTS POST

Last week’s announcement that St Neots is one of only a few towns across the country to receive Government funding to regenerate its town centre was very welcome.

This £3.75m will support HDC in delivering an exciting £12.8m regeneration plan for St Neots. Buoyed by our success in securing this funding and the transformative improvements that will be delivered, HDC has now begun work on similar regeneration schemes for Huntingdon, St Ives and Ramsey to help make all of our town centres fit for the future.

However, such largescale projects don’t happen overnight, and we must continue to do all we can to support our town centres in the meantime as the pandemic has seen small businesses across Huntingdonshire face real hardship.

It’s no exaggeration to say that these businesses power our economy and our communities. Therefore, as our high streets have now re-opened, supporting local shops and businesses by buying local has never been more necessary. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that some local businesses have experienced a shift towards customers buying from them during the pandemic and it would be great if we could sustain that pattern.

Much is made of why people don’t shop in town centres as much as they used to, but the reality is the rise of online shopping will not diminish anytime soon. We can either keep looking back to another era of high streets or we can move with the times and make the changing nature of shopping habits work to our advantage.

Huntingdonshire’s market towns are resilient, but retail floor space is expected to shrink considerably across the country, a result of the pandemic combined with the underlying trend of online shopping. Therefore, the need to give people other reasons to visit our town centres based more on experiences and things to do is critical. That’s why HDC has supported a programme of music, markets and other events in our town centres.

With Huntingdon’s Wednesday market set to return, St Ives in Bloom working hard to brighten the town up, Ramsey organising a family fun day and the St Neots street food festival proving so popular last weekend there’s lots going on and lots of good reasons to ‘Think Local’ and venture back into our town centres.