Decision time for Keystage's Lord Lister Hotel application

Lord Lister Hotel, Hitchin

Lord Lister Hotel, Hitchin - Credit: Keystage Housing

A decision on whether to grant planning permission for a supported living accommodation to remain at Hitchin's Lord Lister Hotel is set to be made next week.

The application by Keystage Housing would see the Grade-II listed building provide short-term accommodation for individuals who have a history of rough sleeping or are at risk of rough sleeping, have recently been in prison or are engaging with probation services, and have a formal mental health diagnosis and/or have a history of substance and/or alcohol misuse. 

Planning officers have recommended that North Herts Council's Planning Control Committee grant the application.

Following an extension to the consultation period, the controversial plans have amassed almost 200 comments on North Herts Council's planning portal - 183 objecting, eight supporting - with the opportunity for views to also be shared with the council via post or email. 

At a previous planning meeting, where the decision was deferred, neighbours took the opportunity to share their experiences of the accommodation since the Keystage facility came into operation in December 2021.

The hotel became home to Keystage’s services after North Herts Council was successful in its bid for funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The council was awarded £200,000 to grant fund the development of an accommodation and support scheme for homeless single people in North Hertfordshire.

Since then, a raft of complaints and objections from local residents, citing incidents of late night noise and anti-social behaviour of clients, as well as traffic concerns.

An accompanying application to make internal and external changes to the building to accommodation the change of use has also been recommended for approval.

A North Herts Council spokesperson said ahead of the meeting: "The deferred planning application made by Keystage Housing to change the use of the former Lord Lister Hotel in Hitchin to supported accommodation is on the agenda for the Planning Control Committee on Tuesday, September 20, starting at 7.30pm.

"The application will be decided on its planning merits. The online portal to submit comments has now closed but people can still send their views via email and post: planning.control@north-herts.gov.uk PO Box 10613, NG6 6DW.

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"If you wish to speak at the meeting on September 20, please email a request to committee.services@north-herts.gov.uk.

"Interested parties can attend but it is recommended that only those people who have a speaking role attend in person and anyone else can watch online via our YouTube channel – www.youtube.com/NorthHertsGovUk

"The pre-meeting report is available on our website."

To view the plans, search 22/00170/FP on the North Herts planning portal.