Plans for £7m Hitchin regeneration project set to go on display

Computer generated image of suggested new Westmill Community Centre

Computer generated image of suggested new Westmill Community Centre - Credit: Archant

Plans for a multi-million pound regeneration of a housing estate by bringing an array of new facilities to the area will be unveiled next week.

The current Westmill Community Centre

The current Westmill Community Centre - Credit: Archant

Proposals for a £7million project at John Barker Place in Hitchin go on display at the Westmill Community Centre from Monday.

The display will include plans for a new community centre close to its present location, and the regeneration of the shops and play area to go alongside new flats and houses.

The plans have been put together by North Hertfordshire Homes (NHH).

Chief executive Kevin Thompson said: “We are progressing well although we are still in the early stages of this three-year regeneration programme. Together with North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) we will be investing £7m into the neighbourhood of homes, shops and community facilities, so we are keen to make sure that the local residents comment on what we have planned.”

Residents from the area will receive leaflets about the plans, and there will be an opportunity to send comments or questions to the regeneration team via a special drop box at Westmill Community Centre.

A public consultation is also being held on November 20 from 2pm–7pm at the community centre.

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Once complete, NHH will gather feedback and submit a planning application to NHDC in early December.

If given the go-ahead, work could start next summer, with the community centre earmarked to be the first building to be demolished and replaced.

That would mean one community group is left without a base to work out of for eight months while construction work is carried out.

The Children and Young People of Westmill – a youth engagement project on the Westmill housing estate – will have to find a venue during the interim period.

Group leader Carla Brooks said: “Although this is a great thing for the area and for us as a group, it will mean that I will have to find somewhere for us to go while work is being done. I am in the process of applying for funding so that we are able to put on activities and find somewhere to operate from.”

Overall, the 36-year-old has backed the new plans which feature a room specifically for the group.

Miss Brooks added: “Once it is done we will not have to worry about if we have a place to operate from or not.”

Cllr Bernard Lovewell, portfolio holder for housing and environmental health at NHDC, said: “This is an important project which will help improve the quality of life for everyone living in the area, reduce anti-social behaviour, and will provide much needed extra social housing.”