Better than flats

PUBLISHED: 11:59 14 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:54 06 May 2010

An artist's impression

An artist's impression

Following recent letters in your pages on the new building at 43 The Avenue, The Residents Association for The Avenue, Chiltern Road and The Finches would like to explain the context within which the residents association decided not to oppose the plans

Following recent letters in your pages on the new building at 43 The Avenue, The Residents' Association for The Avenue, Chiltern Road and The Finches would like to explain the context within which the residents' association decided not to oppose the plans in 2004.

When the owner of 43 The Avenue applied to demolish the existing 1930s property on the site, the residents' association wrote to the planning control and conservation officer at NHDC in May 2002 expressing concern that an acceptable replacement be approved before permission be granted to demolish. We were assured that, in cases like this, not only would plans have to be approved, but a condition of demolition would be that contracts should be in place for the new build to commence by a particular date.

The previous house was demolished in October 2002. The conditions of demolition were not enforced by NHDC, and the owner left the site derelict. In early 2004 new plans were submitted, and around the same time the owner also acquired the next-door property, at 44 The Avenue. The residents' association were informed that the owner considered the planning officers to be unhelpful and uncooperative, and that he was considering selling both plots to a developer for flats. The threat that a developer might seize the opportunity to throw up a multi-occupancy development similar to those we have seen filling every available space in Hitchin over the last few years caused great concern among local residents.

At the AGM of the residents' association, residents were shown plans and an artist's impression of the owner's latest house design. (pictured above right). Whatever their personal feelings about the design, residents expressed the view that a single dwelling was preferable to a block of flats, and thus the residents' association supported the planning application. Given the alternative, we suggest most readers would have done the same.

The RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION, The Avenue, Chiltern Road, and The Finches, Hitchin

* Further to the letter printed on September 7 regarding the hideous monstrosity which has been built in, what once was, a lovely garden, attached to the beautiful detached house, which is now a site office in The Avenue, Hitchin.

As I live in Wymondley, my chosen route to Hitchin has always been via The Avenue. I have felt compelled to witness this construction, as torturous as this has been for me! I am past caring now what its use may be.

How I wish all Hitchin could have been declared a conservation area, so that every new building would be in keeping with the historical significance of the town. I was born in Hitchin and I feel she has been let down, her character defiled.

I will now find an alternative route, alas that is all I have the power to do.

LINDA WESTWOOD, Wymondley

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