Homes plan will 'breathe new life' into town

Huntingdonshire District Council's Pathfinder House in Huntingdon.

Huntingdonshire District Council's Pathfinder House in Huntingdon. - Credit: ARCHANT

A new bid to redevelop land in Huntingdon - once earmarked for a new Sainsbury’s supermarket - has been made, with a big drop in the number of homes being proposed for the site.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a change in demand for smaller houses with gardens instead of flats, developers behind the long-awaited project have said. 

The land, between Edison Bell Way, George Street and St John's Street, already has the go-ahead for 345 new homes, mainly built as flats, but now JCAM Commercial Real Estate Property XVIII Ltd has put forward a scheme for just 178 properties, most of which would be houses.

In its application for planning permission to Huntingdonshire District Council the firm said: “Whilst there is an extant planning permission for a denser form of residential development on the site, the approved scheme is heavily weighted towards flatted accommodation.

“Extensive marketing has confirmed that there is little demand for this quantum of flats in Huntingdon, whilst lifestyle changes resulting from the global pandemic has increased the demand for small houses with gardens instead of flats with limited outdoor space.”

It added: “Consequently, this new application seeks to respond to market demand by replanning the development with a significantly greater portion of houses, and consequently far fewer flats.”

Redeveloping the former industrial site has been a priority for the district council which was keen to see an upgrade to the area to the west of the town centre and envisaged a residential and retail scheme.

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The land came close to becoming the site of a new Sainsbury’s supermarket which would have replaced the firm’s existing outlet in the town centre as part of a deal to build new shops there.

But Sainsbury’s pulled out, citing a major change in the retail market, and updated its original store instead..

JCAM said in its application: “The site’s regeneration will breath new life into the heart of Huntingdon, providing a new high-quality gateway to the town centre using a similar architectural style and materials palette to the recently-completed scheme to the north, at Drovers Place.

“This is patently a sustainable location for residential development, with excellent public transport links including the adjacent railway station, guided busway and other bus services. The town’s main shopping street is less than two minutes walk, with extensive employment and education facilities similarly within a short, safe and convenient walking distance.”