Hitchin Churchgate regeneration: District council calls for your views

Hitchin's Churchgate centre has been the subject of regeneration plans for more than 30 years. Pictu

Hitchin's Churchgate centre has been the subject of regeneration plans for more than 30 years. Picture: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

North Herts District Council has put out the call for views on the proposed regeneration of Hitchin’s Churchgate centre and historic market.

District councillors last month backed the principle of a joint-venture regeneration of Churchgate with Shearer Property Group, with the council funding the project.

District council deputy chief executive Anthony Roche said: “It is still early days and there is a lot more work to do, but we would like to hear people’s initial thoughts on our proposals to improve the Churchgate centre and invest in Hitchin’s market.

“We are keen to hear from anyone who visits, lives or works in North Hertfordshire, as your views will be invaluable in helping us shape our proposals moving forward.”

This consultation is open until April 29. The council has said there will be further opportunity to comment on any scheme proposed as things progress.

The final terms of any proposal will need to be approved at a vote of all North Herts District Council members.

The planned scheme would see what the council has called “a ‘face-lift’ of the existing shopping centre, improving the quality of the units available and in turn making them more attractive to retailers”.

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“In particular the frontage onto Market Place would be completely redesigned and reworked,” a spokeswoman said in January.

“The potential tenants would be a mix of food and beverage operators and aspirational or lifestyle retailers. The proposal does not include any residential properties.”

The report approved by councillors last month proposed bringing running of the town’s market in-house from Hitchin Market Ltd once its contract expires on July 31, so NHDC can retain “any direct surplus”.

Hitchin town centre manager Keith Hoskins has welcomed the joint-venture announcement with “cautious optimism”, but expressed doubts about NHDC taking over Hitchin market at the end of July – a move he said “would be premature”. Speaking to the Comet, he posited: “Why not extend the agreement on a rolling basis until such time as there is definition to the project?”

Take part in the consultation at north-herts.gov.uk/churchgate, or request a paper copy by visiting the NHDC offices in Gernon Road, Letchworth.

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