Old Falcon pub in St Neots to be put on market

The Falcon, St Neots, owned by Dennis Whitfield

The Falcon, St Neots, owned by Dennis Whitfield - Credit: Archant

THE developer who promised the Old Falcon pub, in St Neots, would not be left to rot is being forced to sell up.

Dennis Whitfield, who bought the pub for £1million in 2005, was planning to turn the Grade II-listed building into a shopping complex with restaurants, bars and flats.

But he said trying to please Huntingdonshire District Council has been like “hitting his head against a brick wall”.

The disagreement hinges on Mr Whitfield’s intentions to knock down the 19th Century boathouse at the back of the building – HDC says it would only allow this to happen if it opened a riverside walkway for people to use.

However, these plans were reliant upon Mr Whitfield being able to buy land from a neighbouring business and no deal could be struck.

HDC said that despite long discussions, a solution has not been reached, and that it had served Mr Whitfield with a urgent work notice to ensure he maintains the building.

Mr Whitfield, who owns a large number of homes and commercial properties across the East of England, said: “We had a meeting in December and the council got back to me in March saying they liked some of the ideas for the property but that it was not acceptable.

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“I wrote to them on April 5 saying I would be interested in any suggestions – it’s frustrating when no guidance has been given when we are continuing to come up with new concepts.

“It is like continuously hitting your head against a brick wall.”

“I didn’t hear back from the council until the other day when they were saying I have to do this, that and the other.”

Last November Mr Whitfield told The Hunts Post that he was still hoping to provide a great development for the town and that things were progressing but has now admitted he is looking to sell the property.

He said: “Frankly I’m getting so desperate at the moment that we’re considering selling the place.

“We’re talking to an agent at the moment and they’re trying to talk to the council to see what they want to do with it so the agent can sell it.

“It’s going to end up being a terrible investment.”

“The market was much better in 2005 and at the time I thought that the council were going to be helpful rather than as obstructive as possible.”

A spokesman for the district council said: “The district council has been involved in discussions over many months with the owner of the Old Falcon ... to seek a positive development solution that enhances the Grade II listed building, the town square, and the approach to the town centre from across the river. As yet, a solution has not been found.

“Meanwhile, the condition of the building, which is on the district council’s Buildings at Risk Register, continues to deteriorate and the council has served an Urgent Works Notice on the owner to ensure basic repairs are carried out.”

What would you do with the Old Falcon pub? Send us your ideas by e-mail to news@huntspost.co.uk or leave a comment below.