Radical idea to pedestrianise parts of Hitchin town centre suggested by councillor

Police close part of Bancroft due to a depression in the road on Brand Street.

Police close part of Bancroft due to a depression in the road on Brand Street. - Credit: Archant

A radical town planning suggestion was proposed at a community meeting in Hitchin tonight by a district councillor.

North Herts District Council chairman Ray Shakespeare-Smith told an intrigued audience at Westmill Community Centre this evening during the town talk which preceded the Hitchin Committee meeting that parts of the town centre should be pedestrianised.

His idea is to make Brand Street and parts of Bancroft – from the Hermitage Road traffic lights to the High Street where it meets Brand Street – pedestrian-friendly by banning cars, allowing pedestrians to use the road,

The proposal is similar to what happens now on the High Street on Saturdays.

The idea stems from the Brand Street ‘sinkhole’ which has resulted in the busy town centre road being closed to traffic while Anglian Water attempt to repair the area.

Mr Shakespeare-Smith said: ‘I am suggesting that we pedestrianise Brand Street – with the current closure of the road affording us an opportunity to explore this idea.

“I would welcome any comments and feedback from people in the town.

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“I am interested in a report that would investigate the feasibility of my idea and produce a timeline – I hope we can be in a position to move on this quickly.

“I would hope councillors would support my proposal.”

Town centre manager Keith Hoskins thought the radical idea had merit too, telling the Comet this evening: “I agree with councillor Shakespeare-Smith that now is the ideal opportunity to explore the opportunity.

“People have come up to me during the current closure of Brand Street and said; ‘It’s great not having traffic in the centre of town.

“Of course there are other issues that need to be looked in to such as valid business concerns and requirements that may be affected by any such closing of roads.

“It’s not impossible to do and it certainly has its merits – but I am also worried that by the time it has been discussed fully Brand Street will be reopened again and the opportunity will have been lost.”