DEVELOPERS hoping to turn a St Ives pub into a shop will again meet with stiff opposition.

Former Manchester Arms owner Punch Taverns applied to Huntingdonshire District Council last year to demolish the pub and replace it with a retail unit but withdrew plans when it looked unlikely to succeed. Punch sold the pub in October last year.

A year later, the Pegasus Group has submitted plans, on behalf of Uavend LLP, to extend the existing building in Needingworth Road to include a shop, possibly a convenience store, taking space away from the pub.

The developers say that nearby Marston's Marsh Harrier pub, built in 2011 off Needingworth Lane, provided the "final adverse impact" - along with a "general diminution of pub trade" - resulted in the closure of the Manchester Arms.

Pegasus also says that due to the proximity of the Marsh Harrier, a public house is not viable on the Manchester Arms site.

A number of town centre shop owners, including Maria Needham of Cloud 9 Gems and Steve Male of Male's Budgens, have opposed the plans.

The business owners claim the development would "discourage use of town centre business, thus reducing the sustainability of the town centre".

They add that the pub site would have advantages of free car parking - there are plans for 26 spaces - and lower business rates.

St Ives Town Council has also recommended refusal as the current Local Plan does not include any new retail development outside of the town centre, except at St Ives West. It says the proposal has no benefit as the BP garage opposite includes a food supermarket.

CAMRA will also be opposing the scheme.

Paul Moorhouse, spokesman for Huntingdonshire CAMRA, added: "We believe that the proposal would involve the loss of a pub which provides an important community facility, and would conflict with the emerging policies for protection of local services and facilities in the council's draft Local Plan."