Hitchin Churchgate regeneration bid to be put forward to government fund

A bid for Churchgate Shopping Centre in Hitchin to be regenerated is to be put forward. Picture: DAN

A bid for Churchgate Shopping Centre in Hitchin to be regenerated is to be put forward. Picture: DANNY LOO - Credit: Picture: DANNY LOO

The regeneration of Hitchin’s Churchgate could be one step closer after it was decided to put an expression of interest bid to the government’s Future High Streets Fund.

North Herts District Council decided at a meeting last night to put the bid forward over one made for a health hub in Letchworth, while also putting aside £130,000 towards any work.

Councillor Ian Albert – who represents Hitchin Bearton and chairs the NHDC Hitchin Committe – was delighted to see the bid put forward, but urged for caution as they now face competition from across the country.

“I am very pleased that NHDC overwhelmingly voted to support submitting the Hitchin expression of interest to the government.

“However, this will be a very competitive process and there is no guarantee that Hitchin will be successful against bids from across the UK.

“But I believe Hitchin has the best chance of the two that were in front of us.”

Town centre manager Tom Hardy believes the fund will help keep Hitchin vibrant, saying: “Although the town is fairing remarkably well in the current climate, it is facing significant challenges that, if ignored, would see a considerable decline in the economic vibrancy of the town.

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“Hitchin Market and the Churchgate Shopping Centre has been in need of investment for many years.

“Last night’s vote gave us renewed confidence that councillors recognise Hitchin town centre a place in need of additional funding.”

Hitchin and Harpenden MP Bim Afolami added: “I am pleased that North Herts District Council has decided to move forward with this vision.

“The level of support for Hitchin BID from local organisations in Hitchin and local parish councils has highlighted to me the scope of agreement to create a sustainable 21st century market town.

“It has been a real group effort with fantastic support from our local Hitchin councillors, NHDC, Hitchin BID, Churchgate Resurgence PB and local residents.

“This is just the first step and we will wait to hear in the coming months from the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government whether NHDC’s Hitchin town centre bid is successful.”