A community project that has been years in the making is approaching a crucial step towards becoming reality.

The 1st St Neots Scout Group wants to overhaul its Bedford Street HQ in a £160,000 project, creating a modern premises fit for Scouting in the 21st Century.

Much of the funding is already in place, thanks to a mixture of numerous fundraisers, such as a ball and sponsored events, and grants ranging from £1,000 to £15,000 from about 30 sources.

Work could start as soon as September but that depends on the success or otherwise of a large grant application for £50,000 which is currently being reviewed.

The group's chairman, John Routledge, said: “I came on board two years ago but the project goes back another three or four years before that. There have been dozens of people working on it.

“We intend to demolish part of the structure, which was built during the 1970s, and replace it with a modern building with modern community room, showers, disabled toilets and access, a new tent and equipment store and new kitchen.

“We're now literally on the cusp.”

Mr Routledge said the Scouts expect to hear by the end of August whether the application has been successful.

If it is, the build could start towards the end of September, taking until January next year to complete.

There is a contingency plan, should the grant not come through, although it involves a loan from the Scout Association and would mean a longer construction period.

He added: “When finished, the project will benefit not only our group, which has waiting lists for all units, but the wider community as well and is going to be a fantastic asset to the youth of St Neots.

“My personal dream is to open it up and invite Scouts from around the world to visit.”

The next fundraiser will be a three-day real ale and cider festival at the Scout hut in Bedford Street from July 23 to 25. Entry is £2 and it opens from 5pm-10.30pm on July 23 and from 12 noon to 10.30pm on July 24 and 25.

INFORMATION: To support the project, go to https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/1ststneotsscoutsgroup and for more details, search for 'Your hut needs you' on Facebook.