Town centre groups discuss plans for Hitchin

GROUPS have met to discuss possible ways of giving their town protection against unwelcome development, while protecting and enhancing the area.

Hitchin Forum, Hitchin Society and Hitchin Historical Society met at the end of last month to discuss the possibility of introducing a neighbourhood plan. Hitchin Initiative was also briefed at a later date.

A neighbourhood plan would hold some weight in determining local planning strategy – something that some residents feel is needed, given the current lack of a local plan.

There are concerns that without any plan, the town would be more vulnerable.

A neighbourhood plan would need the support of the majority of people in the area and would have to meet certain conditions before coming into force.

Ellie Clarke, who sits on the Forum planning group, said: “The purpose of the meeting was to discuss issues around the production of neighbourhood plans, not least the resourcing issues.

“Issues which were identified as important in Hitchin included retail demand and supply, parking charges, investment in the public realm, improving town gateways, provision of community facilities, more affordable family housing, developer contributions to improving open spaces, quality design, River Hiz walkway and achieving truly integrated transport.”

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The groups discussed whether the town’s important issues would be covered in North Herts District Council’s (NHDC) local plan or if the community should come together to produce a neighbourhood plan.

They have agreed to discuss the matters with planning officers at NHDC before deciding on a course of action.