Hitchin Churchgate regeneration proposals backed in public survey

Churchgate Shopping Centre in Hitchin. Picture: Harry Hubbard

Churchgate Shopping Centre in Hitchin. Picture: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

Plans for a joint-venture revamp of Hitchin’s Churchgate centre have received widespread support, according to the results of North Herts District Council’s public consultation.

The planned scheme would see what the district council has called “a ‘face-lift’ of the existing shopping centre, improving the quality of the units available and in turn making them more attractive to retailers” – as opposed to knocking the centre down and building from scratch, as has been proposed previously.

Some 578 people completed the survey, carried out during March and April – with 86 per cent backing the idea of regenerating the existing centre to include improved shop units.

Councillor Lynda Needham, leader of the Conservative-run district council, said: “We wanted to consult with residents at the earliest possible stage to get an indication of appetite for improving the Churchgate centre and surrounding area.

“We are delighted that there is widespread support for a potential scheme and we are working hard to come up with a suitable viable proposal.

“We still have some way to go however, we hope to be able to report back to full council in the next couple of months or so with an update on progress.

“We would like to thank those residents who took part in this initial consultation, and hope that we can gain an even bigger response to any subsequent consultations as the scheme progresses.”

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In the survey, 93 per cent of respondents supported the principle of “investing in Hitchin’s market to ensure it is fit for the 21st century”.

Some 76 per cent supported the idea of regenerating the public space behind Churchgate, including open up views of St Mary’s Church from the market.

Regeneration of Churchgate has been on the cards for more than 30 years. District councillors in February backed the principle of a joint-venture revamp in partnership with Shearer Property Group, with the district council funding the project.

In return, the district council said in a statement it would “receive the lion’s share of the ongoing revenue generated”.

The final terms of any proposal will need to be approved at a vote of all North Herts District Council members.

To find out more, have a look at north-herts.gov.uk/churchgate.

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