Destroying the character of town

The North Hertfordshire District planning officers seem intent on destroying the character of Hitchin by allowing continuing developments which are not in keeping with the historical architecture and especially by the destruction of Victorian and ot

The North Hertfordshire District planning officers seem intent on destroying the character of Hitchin by allowing continuing developments which are not in keeping with the historical architecture and especially by the destruction of Victorian and other old buildings.

How they can even consider demolishing a perfectly fine Victorian dwelling is quite frankly inconceivable and one can only suspect there must be some other motive. We have many recent developments plus what is planned so are we so desperate for 11 more that we need to have a perfectly fine Victorian house demolished? Of course not, this would also provide a dangerous precedent and green light for all developers to knock down any Victorian or old building they wish to redevelop.

The proposed development of 140 new homes off Paynes Park is also disgusting. The planning committee rejected the plan but then changed their mind because they could not find a reason to object! What is all that about, are they just incompetent? How about in keeping with the surrounding area - the proposed development is right next to the oldest street in Hitchin, Tilehouse Street. But there is no chance of any in keeping development when they allowed a building to be built in Tilehouse Street itself that a) exceeded the original proposed height and did not enforce the reduction and b) they did not enforce to be built with reclaimed or old bricks when built in between period houses.

Why are our planners intent on this sort of action? I am sure the public would vote for a move of no confidence in our planning offices and replace them with officers who would consider whether developments are a) really necessary b) will be developed in keeping with surrounding buildings, which means using correct materials such as reclaimed bricks and c) will actually listen to the public and their concerns.


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I am sure most people in Hitchin feel the same way but apathy and feeling that nothing can be changed prevails but surely there is something that can be done? After all this is our town and we, the people of Hitchin, want to conserve old buildings and retain the character which makes Hitchin what it is!

PHIL DAVIS

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* It seems to me that there is very little development in Hitchin. The word 'development' has positive connotations. It implies improvement. The building spree in our town has, with one or two exceptions, nothing to do with development and everything to do with profit.

We look back on the vandalism of the town in the 1960s and 70s with horror, but let us be honest, is the current situation much better? One after another, buildings of character are being picked off and destroyed in the name of development. It does not take many of these to destroy the character of an area, and then it is left open to the claim that it is not worth preserving.

I do not particularly want to be part of the generation which destroyed the history of Hitchin. And I ask your readers - do you? Are you prepared to say to your grandchildren, "I was there when they destroyed Rose Cottage in order to turn a profit, and I did NOTHING." Well? Are you? If not, then make your voice heard!

SIMON WALKER

* I have only lived in Hitchin for 18 months although I have been visiting frequently for at least 20 years. It seems to me that all the reasons I moved here are slowly being destroyed. I have watched the barrack-like blocks of flats being erected on the old Ransomes site, have watched the individual shops and tea rooms pushed out by Starbucks and Cafe Nero and seen the Caldicott Centre destroyed and endless anonymous buildings erected in their place.

Hitchin used to be a town of character but the local councils, authorities or planning officers seem to have given up and stopped fighting. Maybe it is the Government that overrides local objections but if they are a people's government then they have not considered the local people who are finding local resources more and more stretched by the endless housing being crammed into every spare inch.

One of the latest is Rose Cottage. How can anyone be happy to have this replaced by two and three-bedroomed modern houses when there is a perfectly good adaptable residence there already. The history that this town is famous for will have no visual reminders at all very soon as they will disappear under acres of concrete desirable apartments.

MARGARET MARSHALL

* I could not agree more with the article on the front page of last week's Comet.

I work in one of the older houses along Walsworth Road opposite the Queen Mother Theatre and believe that this town is being completely spoilt by all the developments. The view of Hitchin has been ruined, we are surrounded, particularly by flat developments, which I believe to be more detrimental than houses, due to the fact that these are often bought to be let out, tenants of these not taking the care and attention that they should, these will in future years become slum areas.

I actually am a resident of Letchworth and have always regarded Hitchin as being a very well kept, historical market town, one can no longer say this.

MARGARET GATES

* I refer to the front page article in today's Comet. It would appear that Hitchin is rapidly becoming the new flat town in North Herts. It appears to me that nearly every large house or plot of vacant land is now being gobbled up by developers and turned into flat, flats and more flats. Has anyone recently counted up the number of flats that are being built or have recently been completed?

Surely it must represent a goodly proportion of the houses required west of Stevenage. It is a most depressing scenario.

A K ATKINSON, Deacons Way, Hitchin

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