Plans move ahead for Hitchin recreation ground

There are concerns over the redevelopment of Bancroft Gardens in Hitchin

There are concerns over the redevelopment of Bancroft Gardens in Hitchin - Credit: Archant

Plans for a £2.6million refurbishment to a recreation ground moved a step closer to completion after councillors approved proposals yesterday (Tuesday).

Revised proposals for Bancroft Gardens in Hitchin were approved by members of North Herts District Council’s (NHDC) Cabinet members on Tuesday.

The modifications to the original master plan for the town centre gardens followed a period of consultation by the council’s appointed design consultants, BDP with users of the park, community groups and schools.

The proposals will provide Hitchin town centre with a water play feature and play structures for children.

The River Hiz will be restored and integrated into the area by carving out natural banks and improving the biodiversity.

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The proposals also include relocating tennis courts and creating a new informal games area with floodlighting.

At the meeting councillors said they were confident that they can accommodate the needs of users of the tennis club and bowls club as plans for the gardens evolve.

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But the chair of Hitchin Lawn Tennis Club and the treasurer of Hitchin Town Bowles Club have raised their concerns about the plans saying that they do not take into consideration the respective club’s views.

Chairman of the tennis club, Elias Xenophontos, told the Comet that he felt it was disheartening for the tennis club to hear that NHDC intends to relocate these facilities having invested in updating them.

Hitchin Town Bowles Club has also said that in order for their club to survive it is imperative that provision of parking for visiting teams and members is incorporated in plans.

Alan Cook treasurer of the club said: “Our representatives were informed that there would not be any provision of parking due to Lottery Funding stipulations thus possibly jeopardising the future of our club. Although there public car parking provision nearby this is not always available to our members and visitors as the car parks are usually full.”

BDP will now submit a bid on behalf of NHDC for part funding of the project through the Lottery Fund’s Parks for People programme.

The overall project is expected to cost approximately £2.65 million, of which it is hoped the Heritage Lottery Fund could fund up to 80% of the cost with the council funding the remaining amount.

The council expects to hear if it has been successful in its Lottery bid in June.

Cllr Ian Knighton, NHDC’s portfolio holder for leisure said: “We are delighted that it is now all systems go, to get the Lottery bid for funding in for this important town centre park redevelopment. We feel that the revised plans for Bancroft Gardens get the right balance of open spaces, recreation and activities to reflect the needs of all the people who live in and around Hitchin and we look forward to being able to start work on the ground.”

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