Step nearer for £6.4m Hitchin Westmill redevelopment

St John Barker Place in Hitchin is proposed for a major redevelopment. The council wants to build ho

St John Barker Place in Hitchin is proposed for a major redevelopment. The council wants to build housing, rejuvenate the shops and create a park. - Credit: Archant

A MULTI-MILLION pound redevelopment earmarked for one of the most deprived areas in North Herts has got the backing of councillors.

As reported by the Comet last week, £6.4m could be plugged into John Barker Place in Hitchin’s Westmill, in a bid to make the area nicer and cut down on anti-social behaviour.

And the project this week moved a step nearer to reality, with North Herts District Council’s cabinet agreeing a raft of recommendations.

They included committing more than £1m to the scheme, entering into negotiations to produce a development agreement, and supporting the spend of £865,000 from the community benefit fund to finance a new community centre.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting, Cllr Bernard Lovewell said: “We have long seen a need for the regeneration of this area.

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“I think this scheme will hopefully solve a lot of problems in that part of Westmill. It’s crying out for regeneration.”

A larger Westmill redevelopment scheme was dropped in 2009, as it was not deemed financially viable.

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The latest scheme is on a much smaller scale, but Cllr Lovewell said he saw no reason why other areas couldn’t be considered in the future.

“There’s a chance beyond this to regenerate other areas that are needed in Westmill,” he added.

The council, which is partnering with North Hertfordshire Homes and Rowan Homes, wants to knock down the community centre and replace it with a larger one, move the multi-use games area and build another informal play area, and build 38 affordable homes.

It also wants to rebuild the shops and takeaway, relocate the supermarket to a much larger premises, and refurbish and landscape the garage areas.

Consultation, full approval and planning consent have to be given before works can proceed.

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