Following the approval of plans to change the use of the Lord Lister Hotel in Hitchin into a support living accommodation for homeless people, North Herts Council has issued a statement further addressing concerns.

A number of stipulations were agreed, including: accommodation to be limited to 21 self-contained units for residents and staff, within three months security measures to be installed and maintained for the duration, including CCTV, appropriate locks, external lighting, a noise assessment to be carried out and sound insulation and noise control measures submitted for written approval.

Councillor Val Bryant, chair of the Planning Control Committee, explained: “The application was granted permission based on the planning merits of the development as councillors decided there was no regulatory basis to refuse it.

“The planning system is set out in law and controls the use, not the user in these circumstances.

"The issue of anti-social behaviour was fully discussed. The decision of the committee, after officer advice, was that this matter, as set out in planning policy, relates to the physical design and alterations of buildings, not to material changes of use.

"In securing appropriate design standards and with no objection from the police to the planning application, it was considered that these matters were adequately addressed and planning permission for the change of use was granted."

Cllr Sean Prendergast, executive member for housing, added: “The decision of the planning committee means that those most vulnerable and at risk of homelessness can continue to be provided with safe and stable accommodation.

"Residents at Lord Lister will receive the support they need to get their life back on track with a view towards moving on to permanent accommodation and living independently.

“We fully understand and appreciate the concerns of local people in relation to this scheme.

"I can assure residents that the council will continue to work with Keystage Housing and all relevant agencies to make the scheme a success. The council and Keystage Housing will also be renewing efforts to actively engage the local community.

"We want to continue to improve relationships and ongoing communication so that we can act quickly on any concerns raised.”