Developers confirm controversial plans for Hitchin flats to go to appeal

A CGI of how the new flats in Mount Garrison could look

A CGI of how the new flats in Mount Garrison could look - Credit: DLA Town Planning

Developers behind controversial plans for four-storey apartment blocks in the centre of Hitchin will challenge the council’s refusal of planning permission. 

North Hertfordshire Council rejected the plans to demolish existing garages in Mount Garrison to make room for eight new apartments for a second time in March. 

The council said that the size and design of the proposal would result in harm to the amenity of neighbouring homes in Garrison Court. 

However, a Government inspector will have the final say after applicant Garrison Court Freeholders Ltd lodged an appeal against the decision. 

In their January plans, four two-bedroom flats would be built in each block, joined by a central bridge walkway.  

The application, submitted by agents DLA Town Planning, was a revised scheme after originally proposing nine units across five-storey blocks. 

Along with the revised plan, the developers included reports that aimed to address concerns about the loss of sunlight, existing open space and privacy of existing buildings. 

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The developers had also amended the scheme’s design following feedback, adding: “The proposed buildings have purposely been designed in order to make the most efficient use of the land, whilst minimising impacts to existing neighbouring occupiers, and respecting the character of the area.” 

However, during the consultation period last winter more than 103 residents objected to the plans, with fears that it could ruin views from Windmill Hill. 

One resident’s comment described the proposals as an “ugly building in an exposed position ruining views and damaging the look of Hitchin”. Other residents raised concerns about the impact on existing properties, and said the blocks would be “out of keeping” with their environment. 

The appeal will be decided through written representations, rather than a public inquiry, which will involve the appellant and the district council submitting their cases, and the inspector will also visit the site. 

In DLA Town Planning’s Appeal Statement, they reject the district council’s claim that Garrison Court would be affected by the new flats or communal garden, and said there is a “good degree of separation” between the properties. 

Hitchin Cllr Sam Collins said: "It is so disappointing that this has gone to appeal, it is clear that this development is entirely unsuitable for our town.

"It's just so darn ugly, and also the site is just not right, these 'luxury' flats steal light and privacy from residents in Garrison Court, and it is just a hideous design.

"I fully support the council's original reasons for refusal on this, and I will lodge my formal objection to the plan once more to the appeal and I urge others to do the same."

Residents will be able to make their representations on the plan as part of the process. 

The deadline for interested parties to submit comments is November 4, and these can be submitted by visiting the Planning Inspectorate website.

A decision on the appeal is likely to be published early next year.