ST NEOTS Town Centre Initiative (SNTCI) has thrown its weight behind proposals to redevelop the town’s historic Falcon Pub – even if it means demolishing the old boathouse to the rear of property.

ST NEOTS Town Centre Initiative (SNTCI) has thrown its weight behind proposals to redevelop the town's historic Falcon Pub - even if it means demolishing the old boathouse to the rear of property.

Two weeks ago The Hunts Post reported how Denis Whitfield bought the Falcon in 2005 with a view to refurbishing the building and opening up the river frontage.

He planned to create a complex of shops facing the Market Square, apartments on the upper floors, bars and restaurants in the old coach yard behind the hotel and a terrace overlooking the River Great Ouse.

But his plans hinged on the demolition of a 19th century boathouse to open up access to the river, which he claims Huntingdonshire District Council has refused point blank to allow.

Now, after meeting with Mr Whitfield last week, John Davies, Chairman of SNTCI, has endorsed the proposals and encouraged Mr Whitfield to submit a formal planning application to HDC.

"The SNTCI has had two meetings with Denis, and we are very interested in his ideas for using the river front plus adding much-needed retail space to the town centre," he told The Hunts Post.

"We recognise the conservation team's concerns about the old boat house, but feel the advantages and benefits to the town of the refurbishment far outweigh the disadvantages of losing the boat house."

Mr Davies also said that he had so far not "come across anyone who supported the conservation argument."

"The more we looked at it (the proposals) the more attractive it seemed," he added.

Speaking to The Hunts Post on Monday (November 14), Mr Whitfield said that he had been "greatly encouraged" by the support he was getting from St Neots residents, particularly Hunts Post readers who had written to the paper endorsing his plans.

He said he now intended to hold meetings with various members of HDC to look at ways of moving the project forward.