Love Local joins fight to save Town Hall

THE Comet has joined the fight against plans to turn Hitchin Town Hall into a museum and calls on councillors to preserve it for what it is – the heart of the community. Opponents of the North Herts District Council plan to house the district collection

THE Comet has joined the fight against plans to turn Hitchin Town Hall into a museum and calls on councillors to preserve it for what it is - the heart of the community.

Opponents of the North Herts District Council plan to house the district collection in the hall began a petition last weekend calling for councillors to rethink the plan, and we back them.

Over 800 people have so far signed up to 'retain the town hall as a fully functioning community venue', since the petition, organised by action groups in the town, began in Hitchin's Market Place on Saturday.

The collective, made up of Hitchin Society, Hitchin Forum, Keep Hitchin Special and Hitchin Initiative, argue that the plan is ill thought out and could remove their greatest community asset for ever, leaving many community groups out in the cold.


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The initial findings of a �30,000 feasibility study into the plan, undertaken by architects Buttress Fuller Alsop Williams at the council's request, were revealed as we went to press last night (Wednesday) at a meeting of the museum working party in the hall.

A copy of the report seen by The Comet reveals the architects believe the building could be adapted in four possible configurations, but in all of them the main hall would be lost to display space.

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We say to the council, listen to the people of Hitchin and considered other options - the hall is the keystone in the town's social fabric and its use by the community its most precious asset.

A PETITION to stop thousands of homes being built on Green Belt land has been called a huge success after just one weekend.

West Hitchin Action Group claimed the result after setting up stall in Hitchin's Market Place on Saturday to collect signatures against plans to build on hundreds of hectares of countryside surrounding the town.

The group want to stop North Herts District Council building on the land proposed by landowners after the authority called for prospective sites for 6,200 homes across the district to meet government housing targets by 2021. After gathering hundreds of signatures, Steve Barley, spokesman for the action group, said the public were in no mood to lose their green space.

"Our stall was a huge success with hundreds of people attending," he said. Most were there to sign objection forms or ask how they could help and some even wanted to know how they could start their own action group for their street or area of Hitchin.

"The public's response was overwhelmingly against using Green Belt land for development. In the end we had 1,296 site specific objections signed on the day, and that doesn't include the many more forms people took away for themselves and their neighbours to fill in. "We have one more stall on Saturday 12th in Market Place where we hope to get further support for our cause, but already we are aware that word is spreading through Hitchin's suburbs and nearby villages on how important it is for people to act now to protect their locality from unnecessary and unsustainable development such as is proposed."

A consultation period on all 126 proposed sites across the district ends on Monday. To view the plans and have your say, go to www.north-herts.gov.uk

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