The District Local Plan (2011 – 2031) is to have its Examination in Public between November 13th and March 1st. NHDC has produced the required draft Local Plan – details here with our response, and the appointed inspector has announced the new hearings programme for examining this. There is a guidance note and also details of the matters and issues that the inspector has identified – just click on these links. Further details are on the NHDC website. This will be held at the Icknield Centre in Letchworth.
Highover Farm Development – 700 houses and one road out – onto Stotfold Road! Exhibition was June 22nd & 24th. Our response to the developer is here – letter 30.03.17 . Further information on our website with the developers display boards here.
Hitchin Forum is submitting comments about the transport issues and how this all fits in with the Local Plan. Watch this space. The District’s Local Plan is dated 1996 and is currently being revised for the period up to 2031. Consultation closed last November. It considered the local economy, the town centre, housing and the green belt, transport & the environment.
Hitchin Town Action Group has done an extensive response to this before the Submission Plan is sent to a planning inspector, who will decide whether the Plan is acceptable, or should be modified after considering all of the responses that have been received. HTAG’s response is here and some background and discussion is available here. Read more about planning issues here.
We have concerns about our town and environment, both the buildings and those often neglected bits between them. We are very keen that both the District and County Councils are helped to maintain and develop those spaces.
Looking after the footpaths and clearing litter are two practical ways to help. We have been liaising closely with the County Officer over footpaths and our latest report to him can be found here – HF Footpath report March 2017.
We are really pleased when the Councils do a good consultation about developments and have tried to identify good practice and have talked at Hitchin Committee about this – read here for a summary of this. We have recently responded to consultations on green spaces – at Oughtonhead and Purwell Meadows. If you have any comments on this do let our chairman know – on email@example.com
Hitchin Town Hall refurbishment has been completed and is now open for business. North Herts District Museum is awaiting resolution of issues between NHDC and Hitchin Town Hall Ltd before it can open. An account of recent events is here.
Tours of the new museum are now available – see the NHDC invitation here.
Air Quality in Hitchin
For some years, measurements of the gas nitrogen dioxide (NO2), overwhelmingly due to motor vehicle exhaust fumes, have exceeded acceptable levels at several points in Stevenage Road. NHDC declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) there in 2013, and prepared an Action to address the issue. An updated Screening and Assessment Report on more recent measurements is available on the NHDC website, which shows little change in Stevenage Road, and deterioration in the Paynes Park area. Read more here.
Careful where you walk!
Hitchin Forum has been working over the past few years to improve footpaths in the town. Hitchin has a network of over 100 footpaths and bridleways (mapped here) and we would like to encourage walking to reduce traffic congestion and improve health. We have recently liaised with the local Countryside Access Officer to consider what can be done to improve and maintain this network within the town – a new handrail on St John’s Path is one product of this. We rely on people noting what needs to be reported – can you help take care of the footpaths? – find out more here.
Churchgate At the last Hitchin Committee (of NHDC) the news of the lease for the shopping arcade by Hammersmatch was mentioned. No further details have been revealed, but hope is in the air…. More on the saga here.
What else do we do?
The Forum exists to develop and channel energy and enthusiasm for the town. We work to highlight things that we think need to change and improve the environment, and challenge developments that we think will damage our heritage and future. Information on all of our current and recent campaigns, issues and concerns are available here.
We have working groups to look at the main issues which arise – the town centre, transport, open spaces and recreation, planning applications, planning policies and, lastly, how we get the information out – communications. More details here with info on the planning system.
Hitchin Forum was formed in 1992 as a non-political umbrella to bring together people and organizations who want to maintain and enhance Hitchin’s special character. It enables the views of people who live and work in Hitchin to be presented in a co-ordinated manner to relevant bodies – more history is here.
Read more about Hitchin, its history and the changes here, where to find local footpaths here. Members are regularly updated on issues and meetings, by occasional emails and a 2 monthly newsletter – present & previous ones are here. We hold several members’ meetings through the year.
We support members who have concerns in their neighbourhood – one such enterprise is the Friends of Butts Close. Butts Close is due for a change. There is now a Greenspace Action Plan, produced by NHDC & the Countryside Management Service. The plan is available here. A new information board has been installed. The Friends have also published their objections to a proposed car park extension – read here .There is more about the Friends in the November 2015 newsletter , including some history and local activities, and the latest newsletter is here – FoBC Newsletter October 2017. See their history of the visiting circus in theirNewsletter (March 2016) and the story of Buffalo Bill’s visit to Hitchin in 1904.
Do join us! Anyone with an interest in Hitchin can join the Forum, either as an individual or as a nominated representative of an organization in the town. If you do want to be more involved then tell us – we often need an extra pair of hands! But – there is no obligation to do more than sign up – that is support enough. It is important that we have a wide membership base, partly so that we can hear a wide range of opinions, and also that we hear about issues in all corners of the town – membership details here.