What is next for North Herts Sanctuary? Building owners, Helping Herts Homeless, are appealing for your input, as a planning application to build a new shelter in Letchworth is to be decided.

Helping Herts Homeless owns the building in Hitchin, which is the site of one of Haven First's two homeless shelters.

However, Haven First has put in a planning application to North Herts District Council to build a brand new, purpose-built facility in Letchworth.

The planning committee is set to make a decision on the proposals at a meeting tomorrow. Should the expansion go ahead, Haven First will not continue its lease in Nightingale Road.

Chair of Helping Herts Homeless Phil Devonald said: “The North Herts Sanctuary is a valuable community asset, which may soon become empty - and we are currently scoping out what its new role could be.

"We would like to carry on using our building to support the most vulnerable in Hitchin and surrounding areas - and to do this we would need to upgrade the building, which would require significant funds.

“Our plans are at an early stage and we would like to get the views and support of the local community.

"In the meantime, we will continue to support our local partners through fundraising and donations in kind. In 2020 we raised over £18,000 which was used to support homeless people throughout Hertfordshire.”

The lease with Haven First is still ongoing and will be for another six months or so.

The charity has said the building would need a total refurbishment. This would require fundraising and support from partners.

Helping Herts Homeless is currently in talks with other organisations, including Haven First, which it says it will continue to support.

The new shelter would provide 40 bed spaces on land on the corner of Protea Way and Pixmore Avenue, and would include creation of vehicular access off Pixmore Avenue.

Haven First has not confirmed it's intention to move on from the Hitchin site, however in a statement to the Comet last year, chief executive Barbara Howard said the building was "unfit for purpose".

If you want to get in touch with ideas, go to www.helpinghertshomeless.org.uk.