The Comet launches Hitchin Top Field campaign

THE Comet is launching a campaign this week to urge developers to think again over their plans for Hitchin’s Top Field - following demand from you, our readers.

Following weeks of letters, tweets, emails and phone calls, we are starting our Hands off Top Field campaign.

The Comet has led extensive coverage and reaction on the latest proposals from the Hitchin Cow Commoners Trust and New Road (Clifton) Ltd, who suggest moving Hitchin Town Football Club to a new out-of-town stadium on green belt land.

They are also proposing to develop Top Field - and there are concerns that the land could become a commercial development.

Jackie McDonald, who set up Save Top Field, said she backed the Comet’s campaign. The Comet hopes to work with the group going forward.

Ms McDonald said: “The reason I started this is that I love Hitchin the way it is, and I was mortified when I heard about the plans.

“That’s what’s behind my motivation - I want Hitchin to stay as it is.”

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Like Save Top Field, the Comet wants to preserve the vitality of the town.

We are also opposed to the building on Green Belt land and commercial development on Top Field, as well as the resulting implications.

Keith Hoskins, town centre manager, this week told the Comet that he still had reservations about the current proposals.

“Our position is unchanged in that we would oppose commercial development on Top Field,” he said.

“We are mindful of the fact that there are a lot of people that don’t want the football club to move at all and I’m reasonably sympathetic to that because I think green space and recreational space is quite key to the overall feel of a town centre.

“It would not be good for the social, cultural and economic vitality of the town centre. We’ll be keeping a very close watch on it.”

In a joint statement, Hitchin Forum added: “We are concerned about losing both heritage and future - Top Field is a part of Hitchin which has and can be used for recreational activities.

“It will cause damage to the town centre and its valued shops if a supermarket development is allowed on Top Field.

“Then there is the Green Belt. It would also cut the gap between Hitchin and Stevenage, which is a precious space.

“We therefore oppose the development as proposed by HCCT and support the campaign.”

Following Hitchin Town FC managing director Andy Melvin’s appearance at the Save Top Field meeting last week, the football club issued a statement to the press on Monday.

It reiterated its points about the lease, and said that “the best possible outcome” would be “to acquire Top Field and develop the site to the required standard, thus maintaining senior football in the town”.

To show your support for the campaign and make your views known, email us at laura.burge@thecomet or tweet either @thecomet24 or @laura_burge

There will be a meeting on Tuesday, where town centre groups and the Comet will be present to ask the Cow Commoners questions on the proposals.

If you have a question you would like to ask, email it to the address above, and we will forward it on.