Popular restaurant and takeaway given green light to open in Hitchin

Chicken George is expected to open at 107 Bancroft, Hitchin soon. Picture: Google Maps

Chicken George is expected to open at 107 Bancroft, Hitchin soon. Picture: Google Maps - Credit: Archant

A new chicken restaurant and takeaway has been given the go–ahead to open in Hitchin town centre.

The new Chicken George branch, on Bancroft in Hitchin, will feature a restaurant on one side and a takeaway on the other.

The takeaway, which is expected to open by early summer, will close by 11pm Monday to Wednesday, 11.30pm on Thursdays to Saturdays and 10pm on Sundays.

But the restaurant will stay open later – as late as 11.30pm on Sundays to Wednesdays, 12.30am on Thursdays and until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.

At a virtual meeting of North Hertfordshire District Council’s licensing sub-committee on May 7, a number of residents had objected to the application – pointing to the ‘excessively long’ opening hours, lack of parking and the potential for nuisance.

Some feared that the queue for takeaway would stretch out of the shop, and that the restaurant would attract late night revellers looking for somewhere to have a drink after the pubs had shut.

But applicant and business development manager Dan Simpson told the panel that he wanted the Chicken George to “add” to the town, rather than cause any problems.

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He said alcohol would only be served to diners in the sit-in restaurant and, even then, would not be served to anyone who was intoxicated.

And although “not quite a fine dining restaurant”, he said it was intended to be a high-end restaurant with background music, where people could enjoy good food and get a drink, whether that be a glass or wine or a craft beer.

Chris Cheah’s family have already run a Chicken George takeaway in Luton since 1985, and considered Hitchin a “perfect fit” for their next venture.

At the hearing, residents drew attention to the parking restrictions and the issues this would cause for diners and takeaway delivery drivers.

Another highlighted the potential for queuing from the takeaway onto the street – and another to the problems with litter on the stretch of road, where there were already said to be three takeaways close-by.

Mr Simpson said drivers would be encouraged to park safely, that the take-way counter was as close to the back of the shop as possible – making more room for queues inside.

He also said that the council or he would install a litter bin outside, with hourly litter picks to clamp down on any discarded rubbish.

At the end of the three-hour hearing, the panel – chaired by Cllr Daniel Allen – agreed that the licence be granted.

Cllr Allen said that the panel had not considered the hours to be excessive.

While he said they had noted that parking was an issue for the area, he said this was outside of the applicant’s control.