Residents celebrate after Hitchin pub application withdrawn

Former Philpotts furniture store, Sun Street, Hitchin

Former Philpotts furniture store, Sun Street, Hitchin - Credit: Archant

CAMPAIGNERS who feared plans to change a former furniture store into a pub would increase anti-social behaviour are celebrating, after the application was withdrawn.

An agent had applied to change the use at the former Philpotts in Sun Street, Hitchin, to a bar or restaurant.

But the application, submitted to North Herts District Council (NHDC), was withdrawn last Thursday, the day the Comet published a story about residents’ fears.

Hitchin Forum, which had written to NHDC to formally object, labelled it “the wrong proposal in the wrong location”.

A Forum spokesman said: “It is encouraging that the applicant has responded to the views of the local community and council. We now hope that the applicant will discuss with community groups, businesses and local residents what would be acceptable and realistic in this location so that we can work together for the best outcome.

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“We said that big is not beautiful in Sun Street and we hope that a smaller scale appropriate development will be possible.

“As was commented at the Hitchin committee on Tuesday night, the town centre is changing, with more residences. There is a need to recognise that noisy venues should not be close to people’s homes.”

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The Grade-II listed building ceased to be a furniture store last year, after its owners relocated.

It was believed JD Wetherspoon had been looking at the site, particularly when the application was submitted, but the pub chain would not confirm any involvement.

The application had been submitted on behalf of agent Barker Parry Town Planning.

Keep Hitchin Special chairman Chris Parker, who had also sent a formal objection to NHDC, said: “With the massive number of objections to the planning application by the public and community groups, it was sensible for them to withdraw this.

“We look forward to seeing a revised application which hopefully is more applicable to that area of the town.”

Town centre manager Keith Hoskins added: “I think it’s a sensible time to reflect, and it’s probably a sensible thing to do given public opinion.

“Obviously we want to see the site in use, but fully support the concerns of people who live nearby.”

NHDC confirmed the application had been withdrawn.

Cllr Tom Brindley, portfolio holder for planning, said: “Concerns were expressed by residents and by the council about the impact on people living nearby, particularly given the size and location of the site.”

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