Housing on Hitchin pub site refused

A PUB has been told it cannot build housing on its car park, because it could impact on a nearby nature reserve.

Greene King wanted to build housing on the land of its pub The Anchor, in Cambridge Road, Hitchin, as well as build a new car park on nearby land and reduce the size of the pub’s beer garden.

But councillors at North Herts District Council (NHDC) refused a planning application to do so at a meeting last Thursday – despite recommendations from officers to agree to proceed.

Ian Fullstone, NHDC’s head of service for development and building control, said: “The application was refused permission by the planning committee due to the unsatisfactory location of the proposed dwellings.

“In addition, councillors thought that the development may block the view of Purwell Meadow local nature reserve for people who reside in Cambridge Road and Willian Road.”

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Greene King proposed to change the use of the rear garden areas of three neighbouring properties into a new car park area for the pub, and to build three houses on the existing car park.

The nearby nature reserve is Green Belt land, but the land proposed for the housing has previously been developed.

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In a report which went to councillors, officers said encouragement should be made to developed such areas. “The public house grounds themselves are within the urban area of Hitchin and can be regarded as previously developed land,” the report said.

“National and local planning policies support the re-development of such land for housing to negate the need to develop on green field sites.”

The planning application was lodged in June and would have been decided by officers, if Cllr Ray Shakespeare-Smith had not called it in.

A Greene King spokesman said: “We are currently awaiting a report from our planning consultants regarding the outcome of the planning application before deciding any next steps.”

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