Approval for Hitchin discount store bid

A DISCOUNT chain which wants to open a new store at the former B&Q store in Hitchin had its application approved last night (Thursday), despite original misgivings about how it could affect town centre trade.

As previously revealed by The Comet, JTF Wholesale Ltd submitted an planning application to North Herts District Council (NHDC) to open a Mega Discount Warehouse at the Nightingale Road site.

But the company, which sells a range of goods including garden equipment, clothing, cleaning products, electricals and hardware, was asked by NHDC to prove further justification that it could provide a greater retail offering to the town while considering any potential adverse impact on the town centre.

The company later revised its application, which was considered at the planning control committee.

David Scholes, NHDC strategic director of planning, housing and enterprise said: “JTF Wholesale made a revised application to change the range of goods that the former B&Q site in Hitchin can sell.

“It will bring back into economic use a key site in Hitchin in addition to creating further jobs in the area.”

Savills Commercial Limited, which is acting on behalf of the discount chain, revised the application in light of the council’s concerns and addressed the points made in a letter to NHDC.

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It claimed that the overall operation of the company would not compete directly with traditional high street retailers and that products sold typically in store were not typically found in other shops.

It also said that other areas within the town, including Churchgate, would not be adequate, and that the B&Q site was the perfect size for the company.

A spokesman said: “By retaining more shoppers locally, the proposed development may help to enhance the overall vitality and viability of Hitchin town centre by increasing the opportunity for linked trips.

“The proposed store will have a low overall turnover which reflects the discounted nature of the product range and this is directly linked to its requirement for lower value floorspace of the type at the application site.

“The proposed warehouse will sell a significant proportion of goods which are genuinely bulky and accord with those sold from other out of centre locations.”

At the time of going to press, JTF Wholesale LTD had not commented on its application.