£12m plans for new Hitchin homes and college facilities given green light

An artist's impression of the new sports facility at North Herts College, in Hitchin. Picture: NHC

An artist's impression of the new sports facility at North Herts College, in Hitchin. Picture: NHC - Credit: Archant

Planning permission has been granted for £12 million plans that will see a new sports facility and 116 new homes built in a residential part of Hitchin.

North Hertfordshire District Council’s planning committee granted permission for new homes and facilities to be built to the rear of North Hertfordshire College’s campus in Cambridge Road.

Included in the plans are a state-of-the-art sports hall and gym, a new 3G pitch and two new grass pitches for The Priory School, a contribution towards access improvement works for Hitchin train station and improved cycling, footpath and road junction provision.

The new housing development, by CALA Homes, will include a range of one and two bed apartments, and two, three and four-bedroom homes.

Kit Davies, principal at North Herts College, commented: “This is fantastic news for our current and future students and the local community. Some of our sports facilities date back nearly 50 years and are in a dire state.

“These brand-new facilities along with the new 3G and grass pitches at The Priory School will not only catapult us to the forefront of sports science teaching but will also boost the availability of sport and wellbeing activities for the whole community.

“NHC has been at the heart of Hitchin life since 1965. This development will ensure that the college remains an essential part of the community for many years to come.”

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Speaking in opposition of the plans at the planning control meeting on Tuesday, November 24, local resident Gordon McPhail, said: “I have consulted with as many other residents as I can.

“Any sensible plan for the development of Hitchin does not include cramming housing on to the grass playing fields used by the college and the community, and next to a sensitive nature reserve.

“It would not add exits and entrances to for that development to one of the already most congested and polluted sections of road in Hitchin.

“It would not propose to increase crime by making openings into the alleyway, where we already have recent knife and gang crime occurring.

“The proposal’s based only on the financial desperation of the college to save itself and the commercial opportunities,

“It’s got nothing to do with a thoughtful and considerate strategic plan for the best development of the town. It’s a plan that’s bad for Hitchin.”

To help fund the project, a portion of North Herts College’s land in Hitchin was sold to national housebuilder CALA Homes, who intend to build 116 new homes and a new children’s play park in the area.

15 per cent of these homes will be affordable housing, including those offered for shared equity and rent, according to CALA.

Neil Farnsworth, senior planning manager at CALA Homes, said: “We are delighted to have received a resolution to grant planning permission from the council and are now looking forward to starting work on a site that will not only provide much-needed homes in the local area but will also enable state-of-the art college facilities that will benefit the whole community.

“This development represents an ongoing investment by CALA in the local area, and comes on the back of a number of successful sites including our current Comice Meadows development in Pirton and recently completed sites in Hitchin and Rabley Heath.”

Construction is expected to begin in the new year, with the sports facilities opening in the next academic year during the Autumn term.

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