20mph in Hitchin The Herts CC proposal on 20 mph limits in Hitchin seems to provoke two reactions – why is it necessary? and why is it not more extensive? A recent study – Lower Urban Speed Limits in Europe seeks to provide answers, providing figures on speed reduction and road casualties. Whilst the changes in both may be modest they do show benefits. Whether it is to reduce the harm done to a pedestrian if there is an accident, or to improve health by encouraging walking and cycling in the area the good effects must surely be worth the little extra driving time through a speed limited zone. And why are more streets not included? That remains a mystery, and it is curious that a road such as Fishponds, with the access to two schools along there, is not in the plan, nor Benslow Lane, with another primary school on it. The consultation has ended (see it here) and the results are awaited. An astute comment published in The Comet letters expresses the frustration felt by many (read that here). But we wait and see….
The Big Autumn Clean-Up In contrast to the awful weather in March, the bright sunshine made for a very pleasant day for over 120 volunteers who took part in Hitchin Forum’s Autumn Clean-up on Sunday October 15th.
It appears that we collected over 60 bags of rubbish with totals still coming in from participants. We cleared a total of 15 areas in the town with additional support from 19 members of the Bubbleworks Running Group, based at Hitchin Beer Shop, who cleared roadside areas between our usual locations – a job made easier due to roadworks in some cases. The Dell, as ever, was cleared by Holy Saviour Guides. It remains a major litter hotspot, and nearly always tops the table for the number of bags of litter collected. Sadly this year, they found over 100 aluminium drink cans. Hitchin Tennis Club members, supported by Bubbleworks, cleared Bancroft.
The overall downward trend in the amount of litter was again often commented upon by participants. In part this is due to the work of North Hertfordshire’s contractors, but particular credit should go to the small and growing army of unsung local heroes who quietly work on their own areas every week. Sadly the types of items collected are a sign of the times, with nitrous oxide cylinders, disposable vapes and the security tags from alcohol bottles being found in significant numbers. For all the pics click here!
Thanks go, as ever, to Hitchin Bid for the use of their litter pickers, and the Town Centre Rangers who enable us to distribute them. North Hertfordshire Council provided advice and of course, their contractors dealt with the extra material collected. It is the commitment of our wonderful volunteers who are so motivated to help to make the Forum’s twice yearly events so successful.
If you would like to take part in the Forum’s spring event in March 2024, please email firstname.lastname@example.org – the date will be announced soon.
Our latest Newsletter is here – Newsletter Sept Oct 2023 NL176 with updates on Luton Airport and Churchgate, a brief history of sewerage in Hitchin and a look around Hitchin Cemetery. We include a contrary view on the airport and are interested in how others see our coverage of the main issues there. Read on!
Churchgate – North Herts Council announced on August 1st 2022 that it had acquired the lease of Churchgate –read more of that here.
In the past the Churchgate Resurgence group put together some ideas (their website is here) and undoubtedly more ideas will emerge in the coming weeks.
At the Hitchin Committee on March 28th 2023 councillors said that plans are being made for the next step this summer to assemble an Advisory Group to discuss future developments. It expected that an external advisor will be appointed to help formulate plans. Meanwhile work is ongoing to assist and reassure the shops and businesses that are sited there. Cautious optimism is appropriate. An ‘advisory group’ has now been formed and is reported on in our July/August newsletter
Luton Airport, now rebranded as Luton Rising, is seeking a Development Consent Order to allow it to increase its passenger numbers from 18 million per year to 32 million by 2038. Plans of this size are regarded as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, and as such are required to undergo an examination by the Planning Inspectorate which will prepare a report to the Minister of Transport who has the final say on whether the development can go ahead. In order to have our views considered, Hitchin Forum has prepared a submission to the Planning Inspectorate outlining its arguments opposing the development. You can read the submission here –Hitchin Forum Summary of case. This has been accepted and we are now able to submit further details or speak at meetings if we wish to do so. We will be liaising with LADACAN and other community groups. Further information on the LADACAN website https://ladacan.org/ and previous reports are here.
Highover Farm Development. There is an amended plan available on the NHC website – if you have difficulty with that link the Application number is 18/01154/OP. The amended plan is NTS2d Illustrative Masterplan (received 24.01.2023) under Related Documents/View associated documents. The Forum had been involved in a 2019 meeting with the developers and others and the meeting minutes are here. Comments on the plans are included in our January 2022 newsletter. North Herts Council Planning Committee approved the amended plan at its meeting on October 12th, despite representations against this, and despite an excellent commentary on the plans in this video!
The North Herts Local Plan The Inspectors final verdict arrived on September 8th and was adopted at the Council’s Cabinet meeting on November 2nd and at Full Council on November 8th – the full report is here.
Hitchin Footpaths – How You Can Help
For some years, Hitchin Forum members have worked in coordination with Hertfordshire County Council’s then Countryside Access Officer for our area. Read more here about what we do and what can be done for the town’s 100+ footpaths and bridleways.
Friends of Butts Close –
Butts Close is the oldest open space in Hitchin with a long history of use stretching back to late medieval times, when it was a sporting ground for archery. The Friends help take care of it, do some extra litter clearance and even some planting – Tony who coordinates the group is pictured here (photo Simon Maddison). The Friends latest newsletter is here Newsletter June 2023 And there is more about the Friends here.
Air Quality in Hitchin – what is happening?
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 town. Information on all of our current and recent campaigns, issues and concerns are available here. We have organized working groups to look at the main issues as they arise – eg. the town centre, transport, open spaces and recreation, planning applications and planning policies 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 to challenge developments that we think will damage our heritage and future- more history is here.
Read more about Hitchin, its history and the changes 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. 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.
Contact the co-chairs at email@example.com