A planning application has been submitted that would see Hitchin's much-loved music venue, Club 85, demolished to make way for flats.

The plans, submitted by the owners of Club 85, would see the Whinbush Road spot knocked down, and replaced by 16 apartments, including five one-bed and 11 two-bed properties, with vehicle access provided off Whinbush Road.

The 300-capacity venue has played host to the likes Neville Staple from The Specials, and Glenn Matlock, a member of punk rock icons the Sex Pistols, establishing itself a renowned spot for independent, grassroots music.

Hitchin Bearton ward councillor Ian Albert wants to understand the reasons behind Club 85's decision to submit the application, describing the plans as "sad news for the residents of Hitchin".

The Comet: What the proposed flats on Whinbush Road would like.What the proposed flats on Whinbush Road would like. (Image: BBR Designs)

"This is desperately sad news for the residents of Hitchin and music lovers far and wide. The Club in its present form has operated for nearly 40 years," he told The Comet.

"As douncillors, we may well look to call in the application to Planning Committee.

"However, we have reached out to the owners of Club 85. It would be good to understand their reasons and their thinking behind the application. We know times are tough. But there are so many questions that it's right to ask before we can take a final view.

"We will also ask whether the club is likely to close anyway, even if this application was not approved?"

READ MORE: Man requires surgery after nose broken in Hitchin assault

Cllr Albert also confirmed to this newspaper that he has a proposed a "community ownership scheme" to Club 85, as he looks for a solution to help secure the venue's future.

The Comet: Cllr Ian Albert has proposed a community ownership scheme to Club 85's owners.Cllr Ian Albert has proposed a community ownership scheme to Club 85's owners. (Image: North Herts Council)

"I do want to explore with the owners of Club 85, the possibilities of setting up a community ownership scheme for Club 85," he said.

"I have not heard back from them yet. I don’t know if this is something they have considered."

According to the design, access and planning statement submitted as part of the application, Club 85 began looking at redevelopment option back in 2021, after "a severe decline in business over the past 10 years".

"BBR Design were instructed in 2021 by the owners of the site, Club 85 Hitchin Ltd, to explore options for redevelopment of the site," the statement reads.

"A severe decline in business over the past 10 years, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has brought serious doubts into the viability of the business and premises.

"This also follows years of constant communication with local environmental health officers dealing with noise and nuisance complaints from nearby neighbours.

"Alternate uses of the site were therefore sought, with a full site redevelopment to erect residential apartments being the most suitable option given the surrounding context.

"Following a positive pre-application with officers at North Herts District Council, the applicant has chosen to move forward with a full planning application for the proposal."

To read the application for Club 85 in full, visit pa2.north-herts.gov.uk/online-applications