Consultation

The following slides were displayed at our public consultation event in October:

WELCOME

Welcome to North Hertfordshire College.

Our aim today is to give you an update on our proposals to develop our Hitchin campus following our last public consultation event in September.

Our proposal comprises two elements – a plan to modernise our sports facilities; and, in order to fund this investment, the sale of a portion of our land to CALA (North Home Counties) to meet the local demand for new homes.

Since our last event, we are now able to provide further detail on the design of the new sports facilities, the plans for new homes, traffic management, parking, and sustainability.

Here today are NHC staff, including our Principal Kit Davies, who are available to discuss the overall plans and the sports facilities proposals specifically. We also have representatives from CALA, DLA Town Planning and specialist consultants who can speak to you in more detail about the housing plans.

As neighbours to the new development, like you, we have a vested interest in ensuring it works well, with the minimum possible disruption.

We will keep in touch with you as we develop our proposals so that we can deliver the best possible services to our students and our community.

 

PROPOSALS

Our sports facilities at the Hitchin campus are in urgent need of  upgrading. Our sports hall is nearly 50 years old, has a leaking roof and high maintenance costs.

Our sports curriculum is changing to reflect national priorities and industry expectations. We need to ensure that our facilities are modernised and fit for purpose to deliver higher level technical qualifications.

The new facilities will include a multi-purpose sports hall with changing areas and a gym, a new 3G football pitch and sports science teaching facilities.

Having industry-standard facilities will enable us to remain a successful college and help meet the demands of the local economy now and in the future. NHC students will gain the skills and competitive edge they need to gain employment in the sports and leisure industries.

To offset the loss of the existing grass pitches, we will be providing a new 3G Pitch at The Priory School in Hitchin. This will be made available for community groups to use and represents a significant investment in the quality of playing pitches within the Hitchin area.

To facilitate our new proposals, we plan to sell a portion of our land to CALA Homes (North Home Counties) which, in addition to helping improve the college, will also help to meet local demand for new homes. CALA will create new homes on the south east side of the site, including public areas of open space.

The residential part of the development will comprise a high quality and considered scheme. Landscaping and the provision of public open space will enhance the scheme and it is being designed to minimise the impact on the existing, adjacent residential properties.

Placemaking and good design is at the heart of CALA’s ethos and this is embedded in our approach to the development across the site.

WHAT HAS CHANGED?

TRAFFIC
To improve capacity on Cambridge Road, we are exploring having a right turn filter lane opposite the main entrance of the college. This will mean that vehicles turning right into the college will not be holding up traffic on Cambridge Road and will improve road safety.

We are looking at how we can encourage alternative and green modes of transport. For example:

• Installing electric car charging points

Creating cycle parking spaces

Setting up a car club for use by our neighbours, as well as those living in the new housing development

NEW HOMES
We have removed some of the blocks of flats to provide additional family housing.

As a result of this, we have been able to increase the amount of usable open space on the site and pull the built area further back from the river.

FOOTPATHS
We have provided additional pavements within the site to improve walking access. We are considering a couple of options for footpaths through the residential development at the request of North Hertfordshire District Council.

NOISE
We are looking at options to mitigate noise experienced by neighbouring residents, including the feasibility of an acoustic barrier.

SPORTS FACILITIES

Our new sports centre will be a modern, attractive facility that meets the needs of our students and improves our offer to the wider community.

It will include a gym and large multi-purpose sports hall which will contain four badminton courts, as well as changing and showering facilities with direct access to the new football pitch. Our new 3G artificial grass pitch will be an improved replacement for our current pitch, based on the most up-to-date standards to provide a high quality playing experience.

We will also be investing in improved sports science teaching facilities. Our new sports facilities will be open to the community, providing an exciting new amenity for the area and promoting engagement with sports and healthy lifestyles amongst people of all ages. The facilities will be designed to be welcoming, inviting and easy for students, staff and community users to both access and find their way around.

The redeveloped facilities will support high quality teaching and learning across a broad sports curriculum. They will allow our students to develop the skills that employers in the sports industry expect, and so prepare them for work in a growing sector that offers good career opportunities for young people.

BUILDING NEW HOMES

 

The building of new homes is an integral part of the scheme as these homes are required to finance the much needed new facilities for the College. The homes are proposed on land which is now surplus to the needs of the College.

CALA Homes has a strong track record in delivering high quality new homes in the Hitchin area. Located near to the station and the amenities of the town centre, this is an excellent opportunity to create a new residential development in a highly sustainable
location.

Working alongside the Council, we are developing the scheme to ensure the development addresses the identified housing need in Hitchin and North Herts through a range of house types; including affordable homes. We expect to build around 120 new homes on the site.

DESIGN

 

Since the last event, we have worked up more detail on the proposals and have started to develop streetscene drawings and sections that show how the levels work across the site. Feedback from the earlier event showed that people wanted to understand how the new homes would relate to existing buildings and we have therefore drawn some sections of the site to demonstrate this.

In addition to the avenue of trees alongside the college buildings leading to the residential part of the site, we will also be providing a tree lined north-south corridor to link the open space with the rest of the development.

We have removed some of the flat blocks which backed on to the homes to the south of the site as people wanted these located more centrally, away from existing dwellings.

To reduce the visual impact of the development to the river and meadows, we have pulled the built form further back, creating a larger amount of open space.

SUSTAINABILITY

 

SPORTS FACILITIES
To deliver a sports hall that is environmentally responsible, our approach will be based on low energy design principles. We will aim to minimise our use of energy through effective building design and efficient use of services.

High levels of natural daylight to reduce the need for artificial lighting will be considered within the design wherever possible.

The internal and external lighting design will provide the correct quality of lighting, minimise energy input and reduce internal heat gain. We will seek to minimise the use of water and reuse water where feasible. We are also exploring the feasibility of a range of low and zero carbon technologies including air source heat pumps and solar panels.

NEW HOMES
The new homes will meet stringent building regulations which require reduced energy and water use.

TRANSPORT
A green travel plan is being developed to reduce carbon emissions. Items under consideration include proposals to encourage more cycling, electric vehicle charging points and a car club.

FLOODING + DRAINAGE

The site falls within Flood Zone 1 and is therefore deemed to have the lowest risk of flooding by the Environment Agency.

The drainage for the whole site will be designed in accordance with the requirements of Hertfordshire County Council who are the Lead Local Flood Authority for the area, and the National Planning Policy Framework.

The drainage strategy will employ Sustainable Urban Drainage techniques (SuDS), designed to slow the rate of discharge from the site to a rate which does not exceed the run-off from the undeveloped site. This will therefore not increase the risk of flooding either on the site or elsewhere off the site.

We have reduced the size of the ‘dry pond’ from the earlier proposal as we are now looking to make greater use of soak-aways. This results in a larger, more usable area of open space.

ACCESS + TRANSPORT

We are continuing our discussions with Herts Highways to ascertain the safest way of accessing the site and ensuring acceptable levels of traffic.

Many people were concerned over the levels of additional vehicle traffic associated with the development and there were also requests for controlled pedestrian crossing points on St Michaels Road.

Subject to planning permission, we propose that vehicle access to the residential site should be via the current entrance to the College at the top of St Michael’s Road.

Since the last meeting, we are further exploring the acceptability of a right turn filter lane on Cambridge Road which would provide access to the site without holding up vehicle traffic on Cambridge Road. This would form part of a package of off-site improvement works to help mitigate the impact of the proposal.

We have received a number of suggestions on changing this access point due to concerns about traffic congestion. We have discussed a number of alternative access points with the Council and our discussions and evidence gathering are ongoing. Our current analysis points to our current proposal as the most favourable access route, due to levelling issues on the site which limit our options.

Residents’ car parking will largely take the form of garages of a usable size and driveways. Two spaces per house will be provided and additional visitor spaces will also be available. Parking for the apartments will be located in parking courtyards.

NEXT STEPS

Thank you for attending today’s event.

Your feedback is helpful as we continue to refine our design.

We will share with you our latest proposal before we submit our planning application to North Hertfordshire District Council. We are working towards submitting the application in December 2019.

Once our planning application has been submitted, it will be considered by the Planning Committee at the Council and representations can be made as part of the process.

FEEDBACK SUMMARY

PUBLIC CONSULTATION – MONDAY 21 OCTOBER 2019

  • 29 Feedback forms were completed, all of which indicated they were local residents

 

Additional comments in response to this question:

  • Maybe, if they are opened up for community use
  • Clubs will have priority, leaving little time for individuals/couples etc

Additional comments in response to this question:

  • As long as they are affordable 
  • Only if there is the infrastructure to support it such as roads, footfall and new access to the station
Additional comments in response to this question:

  • Not flats, just houses, otherwise too many dwellings. Too many extra cars
  • Cars and increased population
  • Too many apartments planned
  • The feedback forms are skewed in favour of the development
  • In order to obtain meaningful feedback a revised set of balanced questions needs to be issued

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS AND FEEDBACK

Traffic, transport and access

  • Serious concerns about traffic and the only access route into the residential development from St Michael’s road. (9 similar comments)
  • Refuse lorries, buses and emergency services already have big problems on St Michael’s road with the current parking situation
  • Could you move the crossing lights by the Millstream in line with the right turn lane on Cambridge Rd to better control access areas
  • Good idea about left hand turn lane on Cambridge Road roundabout
  • Station access needs to be improved particularly pedestrian access. (7 similar comments)
  • Herts County Council should open up a pedestrian route at foot bridge to the station.
  • Work with Herts County Council on opening access on the London-bound side. Pathway to be restored, lit well and maintained neatly
  • Concerns over pedestrian safety crossing the road – St Michael’s Rd and Walsworth Rd
  • Pedestrian access not thought about
  • Concern about access to pathway behind property
  • More attention needs to be paid to the cycle path on St Michael’s road and ensuring its safe use.
  • Car club idea is good but specifics need thinking through. Might need to cut through from existing footpath to make attractive to residents of the poets estate to subscribe. It’s quite a long walk via the existing college entrance 
  • No road or pedestrian access from Gibson Close. Concerns about possible increase in crime and anti-social behaviour. (9 similar comments)
  • Don’t want walking access through Browning Drive and Campbell close 
  • Concern about access via Campbell Close. At present there is pedestrian access to the footpath along the boundary from Campbell Close. Foresee a severe parking problem in the road if there is permitted access via this route for pedestrians using the sports facilities or gaining access to the residential development proposed.
  • Please do not open up existing quiet closes to new development 
  • Who will maintain existing footpaths? NHC or the council?
  • Show all the footpaths that currently exist on your plans. These are 80, 81 to 88 from Campbell Close. These provide good access to the site
  • Do not want new residents having access to the alleyway (2 similar comments)

Light, noise and proximity

  • Think more about two and a half storey buildings’ position relative to existing properties that look onto the development 
  • Any development should be limited to a maximum of two storeys in order to fit in with existing properties on all four sides of the site
  • Serious concern about the block of flats facing existing houses. (3 similar comments)  
  • Look at road position. It pushes the properties closer to those facing the development 
  • Word ‘consultation’ widely misinterpreted by CALA Homes. No feedback taken into account, houses against Chaucer Way are far too close to the boundaryHome density and affordabilitySports facilities
  • Really don’t want the houses, will obstruct views.
  • Streetlighting off 12 to 5:00 AM 
  • Will there be restrictions on the times the 3G pitch will be floodlit during autumn and winter? Light pollution from facilities and development is a major concern
  • Do not agree with the later hours on the football pitches 
  • Improved acoustic mitigation measures need to be included in the design of the relocated all-weather pitch (existing measures are insufficient). Its hours of use must be limited to those detailed in the planning inspectorates decision dated 19/05/14.(2 similar comments)

Infrastructure including schools

  • Not enough schools, concern about provision given current pressure on places. (6 similar comments)
  • Infrastructure is not in place for this development although can see why the land is proposed for housing development 
  • No information about impact to neighbours from utilities installation
  • Condition of approval to include street lighting off between 12am and 5am

 

Environmental issues

  • Disappointed that minimum compliance with environmental requirements. No solar, no heat pumps, not passive housing, greywater harvesting 
  • The current view over the college field and onto Letchworth northwards needs to be maintained  
  • Condition of approval to include less dwellings, more single family homes planting of lots of native trees
  • Concerned that the view of the development from Purwell Meadows will be too visible. Additional landscaping should be deployed
  • Health concerns about substation’s location and proximity to housing (2 similar comments)
  • Concerns regarding drainage of the site towards the river 
  • Will obstruct views 
  • Important to have as much permanent vegetation (trees and hedges) as possible between new road and existing footpath to mitigate traffic fumes and noise 
  • The proposed tree coverage will take a lot of years to mature before it provides a barrier between the existing residential areas and the new sports facilities 

Additional responses

  • Definitely need a new sports hall 
  • The football pitches are fine just need a new sports hall 
  • Would like a children’s play area (4 similar comments)
  • No play area 
  • What is the provision for additional police presence? 
  • Strongly disagree with the need for 40% social housing. Should be decreased by half 
  • 40% social housing is very high 
  • 120 houses is a lot higher than needs to be.
  • Not taken into account residents’ views or feedback during the process (4 similar comments)
  • Would like higher building standards rather than just being in line with building standards. Could a proportion be top quality /leading edge? 
  • No to homes
  • Please communicate the detail with affected households and compensate for installation process 
  • Losing the playing field Exhibition was very well set out and informative 

share your views with us

If your comment relates to an aspect of the proposal which one of our partners is better placed to respond to, we would like to share your comment and your personal data (name, address and email address) with that third party. Please tick the box to give your consent. We will not use your personal data collected from this site for any other purpose.