Highover Farm: 700-home planning application submitted for east of Hitchin

PUBLISHED: 10:07 25 June 2018

An illustrative masterplan for Highover Farm, included in a statement of common ground prepared by Rapleys for Bellcross Homes and North Herts District Council. Picture: Rapleys

An illustrative masterplan for Highover Farm, included in a statement of common ground prepared by Rapleys for Bellcross Homes and North Herts District Council. Picture: Rapleys

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Developers have submitted their plan for 700 new homes on the eastern edge of Hitchin.

A map included in the planning statement, showing where the new housing at Highover Farm would go. Picture: Google MapsA map included in the planning statement, showing where the new housing at Highover Farm would go. Picture: Google Maps

The Highover Farm development, proposed by Bellcross Homes, would create housing and more on the triangle of land between the railway line in the west and Stotfold Road in the east.

It could represent one of the biggest contributions to meeting the North Herts’ pressing need for homes – with the district council currently unable to demonstrate a five-year housing supply.

The site is currently within the Green Belt, and its southern quarter is designated landscape and open space. It is earmarked for release from the Green Belt under North Herts District Council’s current Local Plan and Green Belt review.

It is also listed as a local housing allocations site in the district council’s emerging Local Plan, which is being considered by a government inspector.

But because the developers have sought planning permission before the Local Plan’s final approval, they must demonstrate “very special circumstances” to build on what is still considered part of the Green Belt.

The site is summarised in Bellcross’ planning statement, prepared by consultants Rapleys, as “a discrete plot of land, well placed in the context of the existing built-up area of Hitchin”, and “a highly sustainable location for new housing”.

The Highover Farm scheme would include a community centre, shops, a primary school with sports pitches, a play area and a space of parkland. Some 40 per cent of the housing in the development would be ‘affordable’.

The plans describe four character areas within the development – community hub Highover Green, main street The Avenue, urban residential area Groveland Row, and mostly green zone Parkland View.

The plan is for the new development to be primarily accessed through a new junction coming off Stotfold Road, with access also possible through High Dane at its south-western corner.

Bellcross and Rapleys have been meeting district council officers about the site for years, and last June held two public exhibitions on the plans at Walsworth Community Centre.

A timetable in an appendix to the planning statement proposes starting to build in 2020 with 50 homes, with 100 homes built each year from 2021 until the development is completed.

To see the plans for yourself, go to the planning portal north-herts.gov.uk and look up reference 18/01154/OP.

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