Plans show what unused Hitchin space could look like in post-COVID world

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A concept image of the proposed community space at the cloisters near St Mary's in Hitchin. - Credit: Michael Collins Architects

An unused part of Hitchin could become a popular and thriving community space in a post-COVID world, with one architect keen to hear the public's thoughts on any prospective plans.

The cloisters, next to St Mary's Church, have been "disused and neglected" for as long as locally-based architect Michael Collins can remember.

But, concept images created by Michael Collins Architects show what the space could look like in the future, with everything from a café to an event space pitched as part of his ideas.

The description of the proposed plans on Michael's website reads: "A delicate glazed structure is inserted within the existing brick vaulted structure overlooking the river, and the church gardens. The structure aims to service a civic function, welcoming visitors to the weekly market as they arrive via the town centre car park."

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A concept image of the prospective site near St Mary's in Hitchin. - Credit: Michael Collins Architects

Having worked on similar concept projects in the past, Michael thinks the space could be transformed into one of great community value in a post-COVID world.

Michael said: "We're trying to reimagine community spaces in a post-COVID world. What's that going to look like in Hitchin?

"Much of the discussion around Hitchin’s town centre growth and regeneration is trapped in the decades old cul-de-sac Churchgate debate. 

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"Whilst this is an important area or consideration, we are interested in the impact that a more dispersed set of affordable interventions could make to areas of the historic environment that are neglected.  

"For a small amount of money this site, and many other small sites around Hitchin, could be transformative for the public and the things that we love about the town.

"It's a space waiting to be filled, and it could be a lovely community project - the kind that tends to lend itself to crowdfunding opportunities."

Although nothing has been set in stone yet, any firm proposals would require planning permission from North Herts District Council - and potentially the Diocese of St Albans - before construction work could take place.

Michael Collins Architects has previously worked on popular venues such as Chia Naturally Healthy, and on consultations with the Queen Mother Theatre in Walsworth Road.

What are your thoughts on these concept images? Do you have a good idea that could be turned into a community asset in the future? Email news@thecomet.net.

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