Objections raised for new Hitchin restaurant

Hitchin town centre

Hitchin town centre - Credit: Archant

Plans to turn a former town centre shoe shop into a restaurant have been met with objections.

A planning application has been submitted to North Herts District Council (NHDC) for a change of use of 2 Churchyard in Hitchin – formerly Woodbridge Shoes – into a restaurant.

A report prepared by NHDC’s planning officers ahead of a meeting next week states that the property has been vacant since 2011 and the proposed new occupier will be a specialist restaurateur providing gourmet grill Mediterranean style food. The report also says that the restaurant’s proposed hours are 11am until 11pm.

Strong objections have been raised in the report by nearby businesses, who state that there are more than enough restaurants in Hitchin town centre and that approval would set a precedent for more restaurants to follow. Other issues raised include a risk of increased vandalism and anti-social behaviour along Churchyard late at night due to a proposed alcohol licence, and a problem of street overcrowding if outside tables are introduced.

The building has already undergone some refurbishment work, which community group Hitchin Forum believe demonstrates a wider issue concerning delivery supplies.

A spokesman for Hitchin Forum said: “The Hitchin Forum Planning Group gave this application some thought. Our first ground for objection is the loss of a small specialist shop unit to yet another cafe. Our concern about deliveries has turned out to be justified by the long drawn-out building works, which has led to many vehicles parking in Churchyard and resulted in conflicts with occupiers of adjoining units.”

The plans will be discussed by councillors who sit on NHDC’s planning control committee next Thursday, April 24.