As we develop our proposals we are engaging with a wide group of stakeholders including sports users, students, local councillors and those who live near our Hitchin campus.
We held a workshop for those who live on roads next to the campus on Thursday 15 August 2019 and our first public consultation event took place on Monday 9 September 2019.
At our September public consultation event, we provided an update on our proposals. You can see the information we provided at the event below.
We held our second public consultation event on Monday 21 October.
The following slides were displayed at our public consultation event in September:
Welcome to North Hertfordshire College. Our aim today is to give you an overview of our proposals to develop our Hitchin campus.
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.
Here today are a number of 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 Homes, DLA Town Planning and specialist consultants here who can speak to you in more detail about our 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 work with you on our proposals and be up front with you about what is and isn’t possible – so that we can deliver the best possible services to our students and our community.
We passionately believe in the power of education to enrich lives, raise aspirations and create prosperity for individuals, businesses and the communities we work in.
Our aim is to be known as an exceptional place to study, where we provide students with an inspiring curriculum that develops the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need to be successful in their lives and future careers.
We also want to be a valued and visible part of the community and make a positive contribution to improve the lives of local residents.
The college delivers a broad range of academic and vocational courses to young people and adults. We have over 2,000 full time students and a further 8,000 adults and apprentices. We are proud that our overall achievement rates make us one of the top performing colleges in the region.
In their November 2017 inspection report, Ofsted judged North Hertfordshire College to be ‘Good’ with our supported studies provision and traineeships rated ‘Outstanding’.
We have also just heard the great news that NHC is ranked fifth best in the country and first in Hertfordshire for overall student satisfaction, according to an annual Government commissioned survey of all FE learners.
CALA Homes is a premium homebuilder, providing high quality homes in desirable areas of Southern England, the Midlands and Scotland.
CALA differs from other homebuilders by focusing on delivering well designed, sustainable homes and communities in prime locations. CALA adopts a consultative approach to design and planning activities that engages local communities, interest groups and Local Authorities.
CALA is an award winning, five star homebuilder, as recognised by the Home Builders Federation Customer Satisfaction Survey 2019. We received a Silver Award at the What House? Awards 2017.
ABOUT THE SITE
Here is an aerial view of the existing site.
Along the northern boundary is Cambridge Road. Access to the site is exclusively from the north – via Cambridge Road or St Michael’s Road.
St Michael’s Road runs alongside the western boundary of the site, the eastern boundary is adjacent to Purwell Meadows, and the southern boundary is adjacent to Chaucer Way.
The site proposal is consistent with Government policy to bring forward underused land for residential development, particularly when the location is close to public transport
and enables people to walk or cycle to facilities such as shops, public open space and pubs.
The proposal will meet NHC’s current and future curriculum needs and improve facilities for the local community. It will support the demand for local housing and has been designed to be sensitive to the neighbouring Common and nature reserve.
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 facilitate our new sports proposals, we plan to sell a portion of our land to CALA Homes (North Home Counties), which, in addition to helping to 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 areas of public open space.
The residential part of the development will see the construction of around 120 new homes within a high quality and considered residential development. Landscaping and the provision of Public Open Space will enhance the scheme and it is being designed to minimise the impact on 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 sites.
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’ll 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 and 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 are expecting to build around 120 new homes on the site.
The desire is to create a high quality residential environment in a traditional style where the architecture and materials used to build the homes reflect local character. The layout of the site is informed by the landscape character of the surrounding area, the existing landscape features of the site and the existing built form.
The majority of homes will be two storey, in keeping with those of the local area. Some three storey buildings will be located within the centre of the site to identify focal points and key character areas. The apartment blocks adjacent to the college building will also be three storey to ensure correct proportions and to provide a design transition from the college buildings to the residential parts.
The use of apartments, terraced, semi-detached and detached houses provides a distinct character and diverse mix of buildings, along with design variation. Unifying features on each of the different homes, along with an effective palette of materials ensures design continuity throughout the scheme.
LANDSCAPING + ECOLOGY
Landscaping is an integral part of any new development and the scheme has been designed to provide areas of green space with extensive new tree and hedgerow planting.
The use of locally native shrubs is proposed to help soften the appearance of the development whilst also enhancing ecology and biodiversity. Full ecological surveys are being undertaken to assess the ecological value of the site and how this can be retained
Key features of the landscaping include:
• A play area designed to reflect the character of the site and its surroundings. This will be equipped with play elements to provide challenging and stimulating equipment for children.
• Informal open space abutting the river, nature reserve and watercress beds to the north-east of the site with the retention of the existing tree belt.
• A new avenue of trees to provide a defined entrance to the site.
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 systems 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 proposed drainage strategy for the whole site will employ Sustainable Urban Drainage techniques (SuDS), designed to limit and 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.
The main drainage principles are as follows:
• The use of a ‘dry pond’ to capture any excess surface water run-off
• Surface water run-off to be released into the river in a controlled manner
• Permeable surfaces to be used where possible to allow water infiltration to reduce surface run-off
ACCESS + TRANSPORT
We have started discussions with Hertfordshire Highways to establish key access and layout principles in line with the Manual for Streets guidance which is used to assess planning applications.
The College retains access to its facilities from both Cambridge Road and St Michael’s Road.
Access to the residential part of the site will be from St Michael’s Road, with a dual access configuration within the site boundary providing access to both the College parts and the residential element of the development. We are expecting to undertake some off site improvement works to help traffic flows in the immediate area to help to mitigate the impact of the proposals.
Car parking within the College is to be consolidated to improve its layout and efficiency and ensure car parking is located in appropriate locations.
Residents’ car parking for the new homes will largely take the form of garages of a usable size and driveways. At least two spaces per house will be provided and additional visitor spaces will also be available.
We are also exploring ways of enhancing the connectivity of the site through the use of additional footpath connections.
Thank you for attending today’s event.
Your feedback is hugely helpful as we continue to refine our plans.
We will now collate all your feedback and incorporate it into the next iteration of our proposals.
We will be hosting another event on Monday 21 October when we will share with you our latest plans. We will provide more details about that event nearer the time.
How we are responding to your feedback
Concerns have been raised with us about an increase in traffic during construction and once the development is completed, particularly on the Cambridge Road / St Michael’s Road junction. People’s concerns and suggestions are being fed into our conversations with our highway consultants and the Highway Authority as we draw up a traffic management plan.
Traffic data and traffic counts will inform our approach to the site. This is likely to include strategies for promoting green forms of transport, and might also include junction improvements to local roads.
A number of people have raised concerns about noise levels on the new 3G pitch and we have shared this feedback with our noise consultant. The planning application will be accompanied by a noise report including noise mitigation measures if required. This will be in collaboration with the Council’s Environmental Health Officers.
Concerns have been raised about the impact of the development on local infrastructure. This is for the Council to consider once we have submitted the planning application and we have shared your feedback with councillors. As part of the planning application, we will be including a commitment to contribute funding to local facilities such as schools, libraries and childcare facilities to help mitigate any impacts from an increase in the number of residents.
Design of the site
We have received a number of suggestions on changes to the design of the site. We have limited scope to change the location of the sports facilities and the residential homes due to the topography of the site although we are continuing to work on the detail of site layout.
These limitations also restrict our options regarding vehicular access to the site. 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 this as the most favourable access route.
We have received a number of suggestions about footpath access through the development which we are currently considering and will be able to provide a further update at our next public consultation event on Monday 21 October.
A number of suggestions have focused on housing density. There will be a mix of homes including apartments, terraced, semi-detached and detached houses and the majority will be two storey, in keeping with those of the local area. In our emerging design, some three storey buildings will be located within the centre of the site to identify focal points and key character areas. The apartment blocks adjacent to the college building will also be three storey to ensure correct proportions and to provide a design transition from the college buildings to the residential parts.
You can see feedback from the August workshop here:
You can see feedback from our public consultation here: