Councillors speak out over Hitchin Top Field plans

COUNCILLORS who, until recently had remained silent over proposals to sell Hitchin’s Top Field and build a new stadium on Green Belt, spoke out at a meeting last week.

At a North Herts District Council (NHDC) Hitchin area committee last Thursday, councillors from the town said they had some concerns over what was being proposed.

The Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust and New Road (Clifton) Ltd want to sell Top Field and use it for residential and commercial development and then build a new stadium in St Ippolyts.

Ray Shakespeare-Smith, chairman of the committee, said: “That particular site (where the stadium is proposed) is quite problematic, because of the road. Traffic comes off at quite a speed.

“There are many considerations to be made.”


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County councillor Derrick Ashley said that there were worries over the piece of land where the new stadium is proposed, and claimed that boundaries between areas would be blurred.

“That particular piece of Green Belt land is incredibly important, more so than any other piece of Green Belt. It’s a very important breaker,” he said.

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“There’s been speculation about Top Field ever since I’ve been in Hitchin.”

Councillors also claimed that there was some confusion over the objectives of the cow commoners.

The trust’s objective is supposed to be to support recreation and sport in the town, but there are concerns that acting against people’s wishes would not fulfil that.

“It feels like one man, Richard Daniels (New Road director), is determining an enormous amount of impact on Hitchin,” said one councillor.

Cllr Lawrence Oliver added: “I’m sure they (the cow commoners) are acting, in legal terms (correctly), but it appears daft to the rest of us, particularly in planning terms.”

Cllr Richard Thake, a district and county councillor and a cow commoner trustee, left the room while discussions took place, stating that his presence would be a conflict of interest.

The Comet has put questions to the cow commoners over the proposals. At the time of going to press, no response had been received.

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