Hitchin residents consulted as John Barker Place regeneration nears judgment day

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 October 2019

An artist's impression of the new John Barker Place estate, as seen from Westmill Road. Picture: settle

An artist's impression of the new John Barker Place estate, as seen from Westmill Road. Picture: settle


Westmill residents in Hitchin were consulted at a public forum last Monday as crunch time for the long-awaited John Barker Place regeneration nears.

The meeting - hosted by housing association Settle - invited Westmill residents to present questions before a final planning decision is made by North Herts District Council's Planning Control Committee on November 14.

If permission is granted, the first phase of the redevelopment is expected to begin in the new year, and would see 37 new flats constructed for residents of the nearby Westmill Lawns retirement living scheme and Freemans Close, which backs onto John Barker Place. The work is expected to be completed by early 2022.

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North Herts District Councillor Martin Stears-Handscomb, who chaired the meeting at the Priory School, said feedback among residents was "generally positive", with questions focusing on the timescales of the development, and the proposed Swinburne Avenue location of the new play area - which has been met with some criticism.

READ MORE: Concerns over proposed Hitchin play area

Penny Metcalf, director of development at Settle, said: "We appreciate residents attending the public meeting and giving us valuable feedback. We will continue working with councillors and residents across the Westmill community as we go forward."

Proposals for the regeneration of John Barker Place stretch back nearly a decade, with previous projects shelved over funding issues and concerns over practicalities. In 2011, the estate was ranked as the fourth most deprived in Hertfordshire.

The latest plans for the regeneration were submitted by NHDC in June this year, after a £20 million cash injection from housing association Settle - formerly known as North Hertfordshire Homes.

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