'We want to help our market towns' - Funding plans extended due to pandemic

Funding plans extended for Hunts market towns due to pandemic.

Funding plans extended for Hunts market towns due to pandemic. - Credit: ARCHANT

Nearly £4m to be spent on market towns in Huntingdonshire has been extended due to the pandemic leading to a “slump in footfall and sales”. 

Combined authority bosses approved Huntingdonshire District Council’s (HDC) request for an extension on their market towns budget allocation of £3,100,000 from March 2022 to March 2024. 

They also approved an extension until March 2023 of the funding timeline and spend profile on their remaining £609,655 budget for the first phase of the St Neots Masterplan. 

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority board team, led by Mayor Dr Nik Johnson, heard on Wednesday (July 28) how Covid-19 disruption has impeded the planned activities within the period originally agreed.   

Funding plans extended for Hunts market towns due to pandemic.

Funding plans extended for Hunts market towns due to pandemic. - Credit: COMBINED AUTHORITY

The board agreed that the pandemic and Government lockdowns "stalled economic and social life across the UK and there has been an unprecedented slump in footfall and sales in the Cambridgeshire market towns of St Neots, St Ives, Ramsey, and Huntingdon”. 

It has meant that the original proposals for St Neots could not be delivered within the planned timeframe, leading to the change request being made. 

Dr Nik Johnson, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “We listen to local partners and want to give our market towns every bit of help possible.  

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“I’m delighted that my own nearby town St Neots has these exciting development plans and the other market town communities feel just the same about their own improvement schemes.  

“These requests were simple to approve and there wasn’t any debate.

"Everyone on the board recognised it was the right thing and gave wholehearted approval to the changes.” 

Improvements in St Neots will include the Market Square, redevelopment of the Priory Centre/Priory Quarter, High Street, the St Neots Road Bridge and regeneration of the Old Falcon Inn. 

A similar request for flexibility in extending funding timelines was also granted to East Cambridgeshire District Council for Ely, Soham and work on the A10 roundabout in Littleport. 

Applicants for the combined authority grants, including HDC and partner agencies, were asked to set out how project proposals for towns across Cambridgeshire would respond to the challenge of Covid-19 recovery and help transform the high street, enabling them to be fit for the future.   

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