Two shops in Huntingdon’s new Chequers Court retail area could be converted into food outlets.

Chequers Court shops could become food outletsChequers Court shops could become food outlets

Manormaker GP Ltd, which is behind the multi-million pound town centre retail development, wants to change the use of units 4 and 5, which are next to Caffe Nero.

The firm has applied to Huntingdonshire District Council to vary a condition in its planning permission which specifies that the two units must be used for retail.

Documents included in the firm’s planning application said: “Units 4 and 5 are within the primary shopping area but not within the primary shopping frontage, therefore any use within the A1-A5 use is appropriate in principle and in line with the emerging policies of the new local plan.

“The proposals will allow the use of units 4 and 5 as A3 which will help diversify the retail offer of the town centre.”

It said: “A restaurant use will also help increase dwell time in the town centre and contribute to the night time economy which, according to the Huntingdonshire retail and commercial leisure needs assessment 2016, is lacking. This will in turn contribute to the town’s vitality and viability.

“On balance, and in consideration of adopted and emerging policies, we consider that the proposals are acceptable.”

Manormaker’s planners submitted the change as a minor amendment.

Developers were given the go-ahead for the second phase of redevelopment in the town centre in 2012. It involved knocking down the back end of the old Chequers Court retail area and building a range of new shops.

A Marks and Spencer Food Hall, TK Maxx and Next, including a Costa Coffee, opened towards the end of last year. There is a Caffe Nero and Cards Direct and both gaming and electronics firm CEX and health food chain Holland and Barrett have just opened branches in the older part of Chequers Court.

A number of the empty new units are shown as being “under offer” and shopfitters have been working inside one of them.

But landlord Churchmanor is remaining tight-lipped over potential operators for the shops.

Earlier this year BID Huntingdon, which represents the town’s business interests, said footfall in the area had increased by more than 14 per cent year on year since the new shops had opened.