St Neots could see an employment boost of more than 200 jobs if plans for the redevelopment of an industrial estate are given the green light.
Property development company Quora Ltd has submitted plans to Huntingdonshire District Council to build a retail and employment park on part of the Howard Road Industrial Estate in Eaton Socon.
It confirmed that brands including Aldi, Pets at Home and B&M Bargains have signed up to the proposals to rejuvenate the site – which has been empty for five years - with modern buildings and a landscape scheme.
In addition to the retail park, the developers plan to build four employment units aimed at local businesses. They want to provide small or start-up businesses with the opportunity to have a base in modern, energy efficient premises.
A decision should be made in January, with work scheduled to start later in the year if permission is granted. The submission of the plans follows consultation with the community.
Ben Ellis, director of Quora, said: “It is important for us to know what the local people think about our proposals before we submit for planning. We were overwhelmed by how many people attended our consultation event, held in St Mary’s Church back in July.
“The people of Eaton Socon clearly care about what happens to their area and were keen to be involved in formulating the proposals. The plans were incredibly well received, with 95 per cent of respondents supporting the proposals.
“We had a number of positive comments, with the mix of retailers being welcomed. The local community are clearly behind us, and we hope that the application will be well received by the district planners.”
Discount chain Lidl has also submitted plans to build a 2,151sq m store nearby. It wants to demolish a former St Neots Motor Company showroom and some houses in Great North Road to make way for a supermarket, which would become its second in the town.
In a statement, a spokesman for Quora said: “We are fully aware of the proposals which appear to have been rushed in to protect their position, however, we are not concerned due to the significant benefit our scheme will bring in terms of retail choice, employment and investment.”
Roger Harrison, Eaton Socon district councillor, said: “I am absolutely all for it – the employment opportunities are great and I think it will help take some of the traffic off the A428. The employment is the best thing – 200-plus jobs is absolutely fantastic.
“I don’t really think it is going to put any extra traffic on the road because traffic goes in and out of there anyway. I can’t imagine that most people will do their shopping at peak times, but I think there is perhaps a little bit they can do to widen the junctions to make sure that traffic goes smoothly.”