Churchgate: Hitchin group gives presentation on proposal to councillors

PUBLISHED: 16:07 16 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:07 16 November 2018

Churchgate Shopping Centre, Hitchin. Picture: DANNY LOO

Churchgate Shopping Centre, Hitchin. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Danny Loo Photography - all rights reserved

The group who have drawn up plans for a regeneration of Churchgate have given a presentation to Hitchin councillors about their proposals ahead of an exhibition this weekend.

Members of Churchgate Resurgence PB, who have come up with a new plan for the market area. Picture: CRPBMembers of Churchgate Resurgence PB, who have come up with a new plan for the market area. Picture: CRPB

Churchgate Resurgence PB have come up with plans of how a New Churchgate should be built now, in response to slow progress by North Herts District Council.

CRPB project director Robin Dartington said: “The call for the council to pause the proposal for a limited refurbishment of the Churchgate centre is really gaining pace.

“The presentation made clear that CRPB had been working unpaid to explore the new opportunities to re-energise Hitchin Market that would be opened by completely rebuilding Churchgate as more of a community hub than a shopping centre. There was no developer’s proposal as yet for direct comparison with the council’s refurbishment scheme.

“But it would be only good practice for the council to pause and consider alternatives before resolving on November 22 whether or not to proceed with investing the proposed £23 million in refurbishing a worn-out shopping centre.

“Would it really be wise to fix the use of Churchgate as shops for the next 50 years at a time when so many stores were closing down across all the UK, and in Hitchin?

“The meeting made clear that any investment must benefit the whole district.”

Hitchin district councillor Judi Billing told the Comet: “The CRPB group’s ideas were presented to Hitchin Committee as part of our discussions on Churchgate at the special meeting on Tuesday night.

“The ideas presented were thoughtful, imaginative and modern taking fully into account changing patterns of town centre use, shopping, eating and what makes a successful market. They made me feel very optimistic about what could be done.

“It is absolutely vital that the council listens and reflect on these ideas and incorporates as many as are feasible in taking forward plans for the refurbishment of Hitchin town centre. If they don’t do this it will end in another costly failure and alienate the very people we are elected to serve.”

A public exhibition of the plans will be held in 5 Brand Street tomorrow, Saturday, from 10am to 3.30pm and on Sunday from 11am to 3.30pm.

For the group’s online survey go to newchurchgate.org.

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