Hitchin sports ground proposals go on display

PLANS to redevelop a sports ground into a “first class venue” went on display last weekend.

The home of Blueharts Hockey and Hitchin Cricket clubs could be transformed into a brand new venue, if plans are approved.

More than 70 people went along to the open consultation at the Lucas Lane ground, to comment and ask questions on proposals.

There have been some concerns over plans to build a small housing development near the club to fund the new pitches and clubhouse, but the clubs say they want to work with people to address those.

James Wright, director of land owners Hitchin Town Cricket Ground Ltd (HTCG), said: “We are seeking permission to build on Green Belt land on exceptional terms, those being an improved and more sustainable sporting provision. This is classified as an enabling development.

“We are not a developer and only seek the number of units necessary for our scheme. We will not allow our land or our proposed scheme to enable further development in the area.”

West of Hitchin Action Group (WHAG) has asked whether the project can be funded by the community instead, and has offered its help.

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The clubs have explored external funding, but have been told by Sport England no funds are available.

“We’re continuing to seek out alternative funding options, but our experiences from the past are what has led to us progressing the current proposals,” added Mr Wright.

General feedback from the consultation has so far been positive.

Commenting on the proposals, one resident wrote: “This project looks amazing; the club house needs replacing and the high quality of facilities will provide a legacy for Hitchin and the surrounding area.”

Another added: “I would prefer it if no further housing development took place in the area. However, I would be even more upset at the loss of the club - not just from a sporting perspective but also because I would fear what type of development could follow if Blueharts were to fold and the land become available.

“This compromise of a small development to fund the project and safeguard the club’s legacy should have everyone’s support.”

HTCG said it hoped to submit a planning application in the near future.

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