Planners’ backing for ‘residents’ hub’ at major new housing development

Pathfinder House, home of Huntingdonshire District Council.

Pathfinder House, home of Huntingdonshire District Council. - Credit: Archant

Developers have been given the go-ahead to create a “residents’ hub” at a major new housing development in Huntingdon town centre at the price of three lost flats.

Lochailort Investments wanted to build 304 houses and flats on a site between Edison Bell Way and George Street - land which had been earmarked for a Sainsbury's superstore.

But it applied to Huntingdonshire District Council for permission to scrap three of the flats and replace them with the residents' hub, including a concierge, post room, lounge, kitchenette, residents' gym and changing rooms, and a back office.

Now planners at the council have given the scheme the go-ahead.

They said that the principle of residential development for the site had been established and that it remained a residential-led scheme, despite the loss of the three units, with their replacements providing ancillary facilities for future residents.

Planners said the gym was for the use of residents only and was not to be run as a commercial enterprise. They insisted that the converted housing block retain a domestic appearance.

"The proposal for the residents' hub will provide a beneficial service to those living within the site and are common features within developments which include a number of apartments," planners said.

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"The proposed lounge and gym facilities are for use by residents of the development only and therefore will not result in increased disturbance to existing residents who neighbour the site, beyond that which was considered at the time of determining the original application."

They said concerns over the height and close proximity of the building to nearby properties, including listed almshouses, had been addressed by amendments.

The scheme involved 71 houses, 64 one-bed flats, and 169 two-bed flats, with heights of up to four and five storeys at the Edison Bell Way End, down to two and a half storeys on the edges of the site near residential properties.

Sainsbury's was geared up to move on to the site, leaving its present outlet in the town centre, as part of a redevelopment scheme which has seen the construction of new shops.

But changing retail conditions, including the rise of discount supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi which have outlets in Huntingdon, meant it changed its mind, upgrading its existing store instead.

The site is in the west of the town centre area which the district council wants to revive.