Anger over historic Hitchin hostel demolition proposal

The former hostel on Radcliffe Road, Hitchin, could be demolished if plans are given the go-ahead

The former hostel on Radcliffe Road, Hitchin, could be demolished if plans are given the go-ahead - Credit: Archant

A planning application which could see a historic building demolished to make way for housing has been met with objections from residents and community groups.

The application to North Herts District Council (NHDC) by North Hertfordshire Homes for 61 Radcliffe Road, Hitchin, would see one four-bedroom detached house, one three-bedroom detached house, one two-bedroom detached bungalow together with a parking area and a detached garage if plans are given the go-ahead.

In a report prepared ahead of next week’s planning meeting, Hitchin Forum said it was concerned that demolition of the former hostel will be a considerable loss to the street scene.

In a letter written to NHDC’s planning officer, secretary of Hitchin Forum’s planning group, Ellie Clarke, said: “We are pleased to see North Hertfordshire Homes creating family houses in Hitchin. However, we are concerned that demolition of the hostel will be a considerable loss to the street scene here.

“Radcliffe Road is important for its collection of Gainsford buildings. Although Radcliffe Road is not part of a conservation area, the application site is a particularly sensitive part of the road because of its proximity to significant buildings, and the hostel itself is a particularly distinctive and attractive part of the street scene.”

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Mrs Clarke questioned if an alternative to the demolition had been considered. In the letter she suggested adapting the existing hostel building with a new build to the rear following demolition of the warehouse.

“We feel this would be a far more sustainable and appropriate solution than the undistinguished new buildings fronting Radcliffe Road which are currently proposed,” she said.

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Letters also received from residents objected to demolition, citing concerns over traffic. The report listed that the grounds for objection from residents were that the road is almost completely Victorian and the development would be inappropriate and out of character.

The building dates from approximately 1881 and was originally a dwelling house. It has since been extended and converted into a nine-bedroom hostel. The building has been vacant for about four years.

District councillor Judi Billing, who has called the application in to be discussed by members of the planning control committee, said: “We think the council could come up with a better solution to maintain the historic facia of the building. It is possible to create a modern living space while still keeping history.”

Cllr Billing said she would be speaking at the planning control committee next Thursday.

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