Hitchin Town Hall’s funding given green light

AN �850,000 fund was allocated to a town hall today (Thursday), enabling plans to go ahead for a multi-million pound refurbishment of the building whilst keeping it for community use.

Hitchin Town Hall will now become home to a North Herts Museum, with a space also reserved for weddings, festivals and community events.

The securing of the part-loan part-grant Community Builders’ Fund means that work on the �4.23m scheme can now properly begin, as �3.5m has already been allocated by North Herts District Council (NHDC).

“We are just trying to absorb it at the moment, but we are very happy,” said town centre manager Keith Hoskins.

“This is a major investment in the social fabric of Hitchin and a tribute to the true community partnership that is embodied in Hitchin Initiative.

“The retention of a museum in Hitchin and the refurbishment of our major civic venue is excellent news for the community and for the economy of the town.”

There are also plans in place to create catering facilities at the site, and introduce a lift with access to all floors in the building.

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Formal documentation on the successful bid will be received next week, but due to the tight timescales surrounding the project, Hitchin Initiative were informed of its success at the earliest opportunity.

“This is fantastic news, not only for Hitchin but for the whole district,” said NHDC portfolio holder for community engagement and rural affairs Cllr Tricia Cowley.

“North Hertfordshire can now look forward to a new, modern museum while the community retains a superb venue for a wide range of activities.

“Obviously, there is a long way to go, but this was a crucial step forward for the project as a whole.”

The relocation of Hitchin and Letchworth museums, which will both move to the hall, will save annual savings of �160,000 a year in running costs.

Planning permission and listed building consent is scheduled to be obtained by the end of March.