Plans will give ‘eyesore’ hotel a facelift

St Neots

St Neots - Credit: Archant

The Old Falcon Hotel in St Neots could soon be given a new lease of life under plans to create a cafe, restaurant, shops and 14 residential dwellings on the site.

The building, which is said to be in a “poor state of repair” is owned by Whitfield Associates, and although a previous application by the company to renovate the former hotel, some of which dates back to the 15th century, was refused by planners, the current proposal is said to offer a “great opportunity to enhance the town”.

“The river is a great resource for St Neots and this development will enhance leisure facilities and provide an opportunity to showcase one of the town’s finest assets,” agents acting on behalf of Whitfield Associates said in the planning application.

Historical surveys carried out as part of the application show the Grade-II listed building, which is in a conservation area, was originally two separate plots and the frontage dates back to the 15th century.

Other sections were added in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, and brewery records exist for 1753. A cottage, known as the boathouse, at the rear of the building, is thought to have been built in the 18th or early 19th century.

Whitfield, which bought the hotel, at 10-14 Market Square, in 2005 and paid £1 million for the building, wants this new application to forge a link between the Market Square and the riverside. The plan is to provide residential dwellings on the upper floor, retail outlets on the ground floor, facing the Market Square, and restaurant and food businesses at the rear, adjacent to the river, where there could also be a public space and jetty.

“Support will be given to redevelopment of the Old Falcon for uses that would contribute to an active river frontage, enhance river use and the functional relationship with the River Great Ouse and the facilities that support this. Particular encouragement will be given to food, drink and leisure and recreation uses as well as residential provision on upper floors.

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“The redevelopment of the site will enable the restoration of an iconic St Neots’ building,” according to the planning document.

St Neots mayor, Councillor Derek Giles, told The Hunts Post, the town council had not discussed the application yet, but he and other councillors were keen to see work begin if the application was in line with their expectations.

“At the moment it is a bit of an eyesore and it would be really good to see something done to tidy up and improve this corner of the Market Square,” said Cllr Giles.

“Once I have had chance to view the plans I will be able to comment further, but I think we would all be pleased to see the building back in use.”