Joint-venture regeneration proposed for Hitchin’s Churchgate centre

PUBLISHED: 16:41 26 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:42 26 January 2018

The Churchgate centre in Hitchin town centre. Picture: Harry Hubbard

The Churchgate centre in Hitchin town centre. Picture: Harry Hubbard

Archant

A new potential joint-venture scheme to regenerate Hitchin’s Churchgate centre is set to be considered next month.

North Herts District Council says its potential joint venture with Shearer Property Group would see a face-lift of the shopping centre, and also improve public open space and investment in the town’s historic market.

Unlike previous proposals, this plan does not include knocking down and rebuilding Churchgate. It is to be discussed at a meeting for all district council members on Thursday, February 8, at the Spirella Ballroom in Letchworth.

Councillor Lynda Needham, leader of the Conservative-controlled council, said: “We are pleased that the regeneration of Churchgate is back on the agenda.

“The proposals would improve the retail offer in Hitchin, bring much needed investment to Hitchin Market and make the surrounding area more attractive, as well as provide an investment opportunity for the council.

“We know that the people of Hitchin are keen to see a suitable proposal come forward for the area and we look forward to debating this potential joint-venture opportunity on February 8.”

At the meeting, councillors will be asked to consider supporting the principle of a joint-venture regeneration of Churchgate, with the district council as the funder of the project.

In return, NHDC said in a statement today, the council “would receive the lion’s share of the ongoing revenue generated”.

A district council spokeswoman said: “The Shearer Property Group would provide their specialist expertise and knowledge, essential to making a scheme such as this a success.

“If the principle is supported further detailed work would then be undertaken to ensure the proposals were deliverable, before a final decision is made.

“The council has been seeking to regenerate this area of Hitchin for many years – however, previous potential schemes have come up against a number of challenges, including the size of the scheme, the cost of buying, knocking down and rebuilding the shopping centre, and finding a suitable location for the market.

“It is hoped that the proposal for a smaller regeneration, which does not propose knocking down the Churchgate centre, will address many of the previous concerns.”

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