New ‘civic square’ planned for St Neots development

Aerial shot of Wintringham Park

Aerial shot of Wintringham Park - Credit: Archant

A second civic square is set to be built in St Neots - to serve the Wintringham Park area which is currently under development on the edge of the town.

Wintringham Park

Wintringham Park - Credit: Archant

The square is designed to act as a focal point for a new district centre at Wintringham and will be adjacent to a new primary school, with more than 600 pupils, which is scheduled to open in September next year.

It is planned that the civic square will host events such as markets and festivals and the area, known as "The Well", will have a smaller site providing informal play and space for other temporary uses.

St Neots already has its historic Market Square which hosts a range of community activities, including the traditional market.

Details for the proposed square - together with the "Three Fishes Pond" - a further public open space at Wintringham, have been submitted separately to Huntingdonshire District Council by the Wintringham Partners who are behind the redevelopment of the site which will eventually provide nearly 3,000 homes and 63,500sqm of employment space. It would also create commercial and leisure areas, along with the educational facilities.

The pond, developed from the drainage system, is named after the legend of St Neot, who the town is named after. The patron saint of fish was said to have lived off three fish living in a well, with their number being replenished automatically as long as he ate only one a day.

A community hub would be provided at the district centre, featuring retail, a café, an office - potentially including an incubator to bring on new businesses, a pub/restaurant, hotel, healthcare centre and a gym, with the hotel, looking out across the Three Fishes Pond, providing a "marker building".

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Documents submitted with the application for the square said: "The space remains intended to be busy and animated, which it will be - particularly during school opening and closing times in which it will form the primary meeting place for parents whilst children play amongst the water fountains and 'The Well.'

"Day-to-day, the space will also be activated beyond school hours by the provision of community facilities within the northern end of the school building which will directly accessed from this application site."

It said: "This retains an element of the 'community hub' demarcated in this area by the regulatory plan though a larger community hub will still be coming forward within the mixed-use district centre adjacent to the west.

"The space is deliberately shaped and scaled for hosting activities and local events, such as informal play provision, exhibitions, food vans, pop-up-cafes etc, and electrical supply has been included within the space to cater for these. However, larger events such as markets and festivals are intended to take place in the larger civic square area envisaged opposite the site on the western side of the primary route."

The application said: "Residential uses will also be provided within the district centre. These, together with the proposed office uses, are generally to be located above other uses in mixed-use blocks.

"These uses will result in the district centre having a busy and commercial character."

The application for the Three Fishes Pond said: "The proposed scheme will see the delivery of a triangular area of landscaped public space including pedestrian and cycle paths and a pond that performs a SuDS (sustainable drainage system), ornamental and leisure function."

The district council has already given the go-ahead for the wider development in outline form and now developers have to make further applications to fill in the details.