Fears Hitchin pub plan will increase anti-social behaviour
- Credit: Archant
PLANS to change a former furniture store into a pub or restaurant have sparked anti-social behaviour fears.
Philpotts in Hitchin could become a pub or restaurant, after an application was submitted to North Herts District Council (NHDC) by Barker Parry Town Planning Ltd.
It follows the former furniture store, based in Sun Street, closing last year.
This week, town groups called for NHDC to reject the change of use, on grounds the Grade-II listed building is not a suitable site for a pub.
Among them is Hitchin Forum, which said it wanted to see the shop return to use, either as a whole unit or split between retail and residential.
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In a statement, its planning group said: “These are very large premises and, if granted permission, this change of use could have serious adverse consequences for the amenity of nearby residents, particularly in terms of noise and anti-social behaviour. “Hitchin is fortunate in having a robust evening and nighttime economy, with numerous restaurants and drinking establishments. They are somewhat scattered throughout the town centre and its edges, and none is large enough to have a wider impact.
“What is proposed here is something far larger and likely to have a considerable impact over a much greater area. There is a danger of Hitchin town centre reaching a tipping point in terms of noise, anti-social behaviour and impact on local residents.”
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The Forum, along with Keep Hitchin Special (KHS), is asking for the application to be called in so district councillors make the decision, rather than officers.
KHS chairman Chris Parker said: “We wish to object to this application because there is insufficient detail on the proposal for these premises to ensure the change of use does not adversely affect the amenities of the local residents.
“Any restriction in licensing will not, we feel, be adequate to prevent noise and anti-social behaviour. For this to be a family-friendly restaurant and drinking establishment we feel there should be open spaces, i.e. gardens, to allow for overspill and lively young children to go otherwise overspill will be on the street and into the public highway.”
Cllr Tom Brindley, NHDC’s portfolio holder for planning, said: “The application has not yet been determined and, given the issues raised during the consultation, may be called in to be decided by our planning committee.”