Developer pitches new plans for supermarket on Hitchin Top Field

Hitchin Town FC's ground could be turned into a supermarket

Hitchin Town FC's ground could be turned into a supermarket - Credit: Archant

Plans to build a supermarket on the site where Hitchin Town FC play have resurfaced.

Developer New Road (Clifton) has put forward ideas to North Herts District Council for the opening of a supermarket – believed to be Tesco – at the football club’s current home in Fishponds Road.

It is the second time a retail store has been earmarked for Top Field, owned by the Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust, after plans to sell the land and move the club to Green Belt land in St Ippolyts came to light in 2012.

New Road, working on behalf of an unnamed supermarket, has also submitted a second screening application to NHDC for new sports facilities in Stevenage Road, opposite Kingshott School on the A602.

Hitchin Town’s chief executive Andy Melvin said for legal reasons he was not able to comment on the application because the club, which leases the land, was locked in litigation with the Cow Commoners.

However, Chris Parker, chairman of Keep Hitchin Special, said: “It appears that Hitchin Cow Commoners are just trying to make money and are not really considering the best interest of the town or the football club. Environmentally it will remove green space and the location will create further traffic congestion on Bedford Road and Fishponds Road.”

Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins said: “Hitchin Initiative opposes any commercial property on Top Field, but it is not to say we would be against anything leisure or residential on the site.”

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Chairman of Hitchin Forum, Mike Clarke, said: “Tesco, the original suspect, has attracted opposition in other areas because of the impact it has had on local businesses. But whether it is Tesco, or another superstore, do we need a fourth large supermarket in town? Should a Hitchin charity be making a deal to do so? We think not.

“There is also the question of overflow parking for the swim centre provided by Top Field – if this is lost there might well be pressure once again to tarmac more of Butts Close to provide parking. We oppose the building of a superstore on Top Field, and believe that the Cow Commoners should not allow the land to be used for this.”

Maggie Dyer, chairman of Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust, said she was not aware of the application.

A Tesco spokesman said: “We are aware of the developer’s involvement and are reviewing our options.”