Big Hitchin Spring Clean: On Sunday April 24th we cleared a lot of litter – 100 volunteers filled 90 sacks of rubbish. Many thanks to all volunteers, Brownies and Guides, the local fire brigade, and North Herts District Council. Pictures of all available 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.
Butts Close is due for a change. There is now a Greenspace Action Plan, produced by NHDC & the Countryside Management Service. Following consultations the plan has been finalized and work is due to start in April. The plan is available here.
The Friends of Butts Close have commented on this in their January Newsletter. There is more about the Friends in their November newsletter - FoBC Newsletter Nov 2015 , including some history and local activities.
Walsworth housing plans: There is a planning application for the North Herts College site. Hitchin Forum’s Planning Group response is to question the style and the setting in the middle of Walsworth, ask about affordable housing, challenge the size of the flats, and whether the developer’s section 106 money could be channelled to the community centre. 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.
Hitchin Town Hall & North Herts District Museum are nearing completion – the latest Comet report is here & updates from the museum are here. NHDC are seeking to buy 14 & 15 Brand Street (whose ground include the museum entrance) from the bankers of Hitchin Town Hall Ltd. The dates of opening both facilities are yet to be announced. A report of a recent visit to the Town Hall is here. Background to the controversy is here.
Churchgate NHDC had an exclusivity agreement with Hammersmatch, the current leasees of Churchgate, until the end of December 2015. Further moves on the potential for developing the shopping arcade (space age in 1969, but less exciting now) are yet to be revealed. Will the market be moved? Will a cinema arrive? We await developments. More on the saga here.
Hitchin Town Action Group (HTAG -Hitchin Forum, The Hitchin Society and Hitchin Historical Society, with support from Hitchin Initiative) sent a 60 page response (after workshops and many consultations) to North Herts District Council for the consultation which ended in February 2015. A further draft was expected by now, but following over 8,000 responses to the first, the next draft will not be produced until July. Click here to see the HTAG response . This may seem to be a long response, but the NHDC plans amounted to thousands of pages! More information here.
Bancroft Recreation Ground did not receive the hoped for grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This was discussed at NHDC Cabinet on December 16th 2015 – the report is here. The water splash is being installed and should open for the summer, with some toilet provision in the pavilion.The old public tennis courts have been erased. We hope that the availability of open access tennis courts will not be lost completely. The green spaces are also being refreshed. Further information on the history of the Lottery bid is 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.
A Planning Group meets regularly to consider a variety of concerns that affect the town – more details here with info on the planning system. We comment on recent planning proposals – here
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, with a history of the visiting circus, is the Friends of Butts Close Newsletter 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.