FREE afternoon parking is to made available in Huntingdon when construction work on a new multi-storey car park begins on Monday (July 8).

The £5million investment by Huntingdonshire District Council is the first stage in the redevelopment of Chequers Court, and will pave the way for a planned new retail development.

The multi-storey, which will be on built on the existing Sainsbury's car park, will provide about 650 spaces - an additional 250 spaces on the current set up.

Construction of the ground floor of the car park is planned to be ready and open before Christmas. The rest of the work, which will be funded from development contributions and from future car park income, is due to be completed by the end of January 2014, HDC said.

The number of available spaces at Sainsbury's will be reduced during the work, but to compensate HDC said it will introduce free parking in the car park after 3pm every day, starting on Monday.

HDC said it is hoped that this will encourage shoppers to use the car park outside of busy lunch-times. The council is also working with BID Huntingdon to produce a map showing alternative car parks within the town while Sainsbury's will have car park marshals helping shoppers between 10am and 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays, working right through to Christmas.

HDC assistant director, Steve Ingram, said: "I am very pleased to see this scheme progressing so well after the signing of the development agreement. Once complete this will bring the first major positive change to the town centre, and will pave the way for further works to begin at Chequers Court."