‘Vibrant Hitchin is still bucking shop closure trends’ says town centre manager as Next plans expansion

Town centre manager Keith Hoskins says Hitchin is bucking negative trends.

Town centre manager Keith Hoskins says Hitchin is bucking negative trends. - Credit: Archant

Buoyant Hitchin is again bucking national trends after grim new figures revealed net shop closures in the nation’s town centres had nearly trebled.

Town centre manager Keith Hoskins said: “Hitchin has always been prominent in bucking negative high street trends, and our net closures are significantly lower than the national average.

“For example our vacancy rates stand at 3.5 per cent of total shops in the town centre, down from 6.5 per cent – whereas the figure nationally is more than 13 per cent.

“I’ve just come off the phone to an agent and it seems the majority of empty shop units are in various stages of negotiations.

“Some are initial expressions of interest, others are on the point of signing new contracts – and if anyone is looking for a small unit, please get in touch so they can join our waiting list.

“There has also been good interest in the new property units in Hermitage Road.

“But we aren’t complacent – which is why we’re keen to engage with North Herts District Council on their town centre planning.

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“We’re extremely fortunate to see positive trends, and we’ll continue to work as hard as we do to make sure Hitchin remains at the forefront of vibrant towns nationally.”

Nationwide clothes retailer Next has confirmed it will be extending its premises into the empty unit next door, which previously housed women’s fashion chain Monsoon.

A spokesman for Next told the Comet: “We are extending our existing Bancroft store to include the vacant shop unit next door and look forward to opening the extension sometime in early summer.”

The opening date of the new Premier Inn hotel has also been provisionally set.

A spokesman said: “The current opening date is set for July 6 – but may be subject to change dependent on building works.”

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