A line in the sand for developers’

COMMUNITY groups are celebrating a serious blow to the pile it high and cram it tight mentality to building in their town. An appeal by Weston Homes plc against North Hertfordshire District Council s decision to refuse a planning application for 105 hom

COMMUNITY groups are celebrating a serious blow to the "pile it high and cram it tight" mentality to building in their town.

An appeal by Weston Homes plc against North Hertfordshire District Council's decision to refuse a planning application for 105 homes and 105 car parking spaces on a former office site at Walsworth Road, Hitchin, has been dismissed.

The Triangle Residents Association and lobby group Hitchin Forum were both celebrating after a government planning inspector concluded: "The proposal would be detrimental to the character and appearance to the surrounding area."

Earlier in the hearing the inspector, David Stephenson, had said: "The character of Hitchin as a whole is generally of low-rise development. There are few buildings in the town above three storeys; no buildings above four storeys were brought to my attention and I observed none."


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The application was vehemently opposed by the residents' association and the forum when it was made in January.

A Triangle representative said: "We just felt it was a very poor design and a mish-mash of historical styles that would not fit into the character of the local area at all.

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"Developers should not be able to just impose inappropriate designs on an area where others already live. We are pleased that the inspector picked up on areas that would be cramped as well as overbearing aspects of the proposed development."

A forum spokesman echoed this, saying: "This was a classic example of the worst possible town cramming - pile it high and cram it tight. The developer wanted blocks four and five storeys high, right next to two-storey Victorian homes.

"This decision slates the proposed scheme and is excellent for Hitchin."

Both groups felt the decision goes beyond a local victory and sets wider standards for Hitchin both on scale and size.

"This effectively draws a line in the sand on what is an appropriate scale for Hitchin," said the Triangle spokesman.

A spokesman for Weston Homes said: "Weston Homes is currently in discussions with North Hertfordshire District Council with regards to the future of the Walsworth Road site in Hitchin.

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