Campaign launched to keep Hitchin college gates open


- Credit: Archant

A campaign has been launched in a bid to keep entrances to a college playing field open to the public.

Six entrances to green space at the Centre for the Arts in Willian Road, Hitchin, were blocked off with stell fencing by North Hertfordshire College two weeks ago.

The college made a decsision to stop people getting into the field through the gates as a result of issues surrounding dog mess, flytipping and anti-social behaviour after dark.

Steve Chappell, who lives in nearby Coleridge Close, Hitchin, has now launched a campaign calling for the college to reopen the entrances and is asking for backing so he can apply for a village green or public footpath status.

Either status would ensure the public can use the field going forward.

The 60-year-old said: “I have been using the field to walk my dogs for 34 years. In that time I have played with my children on that field and more recently my grandchildren.

“The feeling among the residents, who have used the field some for over 40 years, is outrage. The college which should form part of the community has seen fit to exclude it by erecting fences at all six accesses even though a number of years ago six dog bins were installed, not directly giving permission to dog owners to use the field but accepting that they did and providing a facility for them.

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“The entrances were fenced off without any prior warning and without any signage to date. The residents of the surrounding community are looking to the county council to grant a right of way within the grounds of the college which they have enjoyed since the college existed.”

Now Mr Chappell is hoping for people to come forward who have used the fields for a more than 20 years – the criteria required to apply for either a village green or public footpath status.

He added: “As long as we can prove and show evidence that the fields have been used by the public for more than 20 years we can submit evidence forms to Hertfordshire County Council.”

If you would like to fill in an evidence form contact or text 07534 933375.