Appeal upholds bid to build houses on Hitchin pub site

Anchor pub

Anchor pub - Credit: Archant

A plan to build houses on land behind a pub has been approved following an appeal.

Pub chain Greene King, which owns The Anchor, submitted plans to build three houses at the back of the pub in Cambridge Road, Hitchin, a new car park on nearby land and reduce the size of the pub’s beer garden.

Its plans were turned down by North Herts District Council’s (NHDC) planning committee last year due to fears over the impact it could have on the nearby Purwell Meadow nature reserve, but the chain lodged an appeal against that decision and had it approved by a planning inspector last Thursday.

The application was granted on condition that trees were protected and the appearance of the area was safeguarded.

It was considered by planning inspector Nigel McGurk that the houses would be sufficiently separated from Purwell Meadows by hedgerows and gardens.

The approval means three two-storey houses can be built, including access to Cambridge Road, and the change of use of residential gardens into 24 car park spaces.

The car park behind the pub will be reduced in size and moved across the garden area.

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Cllr Ray Shakespeare-Smith, who sits on the planning committee, said: “I’m disappointed by the inspector’s report and decision but not surprised by it. I objected to the development and was supported by members and this demonstrates that councillors want to protect the environment.”

Chris Parker, chairman of Keep Hitchin Special, said: “I think its sacrilege. We already have one pub closed – The Sailor Boy – which is likely to be destined for housing, and no doubt this one will be too in the future. At the moment it still stands as a pub but the land now has permission for housing so there is every chance that the pub could go.”

NHDC councillors initially refused the scheme because they said the location was “unsatisfactory” and would block residents’ views of the Green Belt beauty spot.

A Greene King spokesman said: “We are pleased with the decision to grant planning permission.”