Councillors approve £7 million Hitchin redevelopment project

St John Barker Place in Hitchin is proposed for a major redevelopment. The council wants to build ho

St John Barker Place in Hitchin is proposed for a major redevelopment. The council wants to build housing, rejuvenate the shops and create a park. - Credit: Archant

A multi-million pound project to redevelop a housing estate was given the green light last night (Thursday).

Members of a planning control committee at North Herts District Council (NHDC) have approved plans for the renovation of John Barker Place in Hitchin.

The £7 million project to regenerate the Westmill estate, will see new shops, play areas and affordable housing on the estate.

The project is a joint scheme between NHDC, which will commit more than £1m from its affordable housing budget to the initiative, and North Hertfordshire Homes (NHH).

Separate plans for the Westmill Community Centre on the estate were unanimously approved by NHDC’s planning committee in January.

The existing community centre will remain open to existing groups and new hirers while the new centre is built on an adjacent plot.

The redevelopment, which will include 39 new homes, a supermarket and a takeaway, dedicated parking spaces and an enclosed new play area, will be carried out over two phases.

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The initial phase of the development will focus on replacing the existing multi-use games area and community centre.

Following that will be the construction of the new supermarket and takeaway, 24 new flats and finally the building of 15 new houses and a new play area.

Cllr Bernard Lovewell, NHDC’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “The regeneration of John Barker Place will really improve conditions and facilities for local residents. There will be a range of new affordable housing available, a new centre will offer the community a hall and meeting rooms as well as an outside activity area. This is an exciting change for the area and we are delighted that the plans now have the stamp of approval to move forward.”

Kevin Thompson, chief executive of NHH, said: “We are exceedingly pleased that the regeneration of John Barker Place has had overwhelming support from all groups. The plans that local residents reviewed during the public consultation will be built in phases over the next three years and we will keep the neighbourhood updated through noticeboards and events such as ‘Meet the Builder’. Our next step is to tender for the construction partner who will work with us to create the new John Barker Place.”