CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

Trading Places in Hitchin

PUBLISHED: 18:07 22 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:01 20 February 2013

Russell Milligan, designer at Planet Furniture in Bridge Street

Russell Milligan, designer at Planet Furniture in Bridge Street

With plans for a multi-million-pound redevelopment of its shopping centre, and with a resurgent market bucking the national trend, Hitchin's future looks bright, as Louise McEvoy discovers

HITCHIN is a medieval market town with narrow streets and lanes, a large square and a strong and vibrant town centre which spreads out from Market Place.


As one of the largest towns in North Hertfordshire, with a population of about 30,360, Hitchin has good rail and road links and is the main shopping, market and commercial centre for a wide area in Hertfordshire and parts of Bedfordshire. The nightlife is lively with more than 40 restaurants, clubs and bars, and a continental feel is provided during the day by the cafes and coffee shops.


Hitchin has a strong identity and offers a good mix of retail, business and leisure activities to its visitors, with independent specialist shops complementing high street chains and the town boasting thriving markets and attractive public spaces.


The Churchgate shopping centre and surrounding area in Hitchin is set for a multi-million-pound redevelopment after North Hertfordshire District Council awarded the contract to Simons Developments Limited in February last year. Simons is in negotiations with potential joint venture partners to help them meet their brief, which is to ensure that there are opportunities to attract the right mix and types of shops to the town, and that it becomes more attractive whilst at the same time its historic character is retained. The current plans would provide more retail floor space and include a proposal for a large retail anchor store.


The Hitchin Initiative was set up in October 1995 by a group of local landlords and traders who, concerned about the future of Hitchin town centre, decided to see how the town could be improved through a collective effort. It is run by town centre manager, Keith Hoskins, and aims to improve the retail offer and encourage events and activities. Keith, who has been the town centre manager for almost 15 years, says, Its focus remains on bringing community, commercial and council interests together, and its about the three of these working in partnership to deliver a vibrant town. I think we invented localism before it became a buzz word for this government.


In April 2009, Hitchin businesses voted to establish a Business Improvement District (BID) scheme, with all the traders involved paying a small annual levy to fund projects and services which will ultimately improve the whole business environment.


Since then, three town centre rangers have been appointed to log and organise action on graffiti, littering, cleaning and anti-social behaviour incidents, as well as work on promotional events. Through BID, CCTV has either been improved or introduced in certain areas of the town centre, lighting has been improved in poorly-lit areas, and market improvements have resulted in more stallholders and a greater footfall. BID has picked up a lot of the janitorial functions of Hitchin Initiative and its enabled the Initiative to become more of a community interest company, explains Keith. BID has a five-year mandate and delivers projects businesses themselves have identified as key to improving their environment, as well as levering in outside investment.


Asked about the future of the retail side of Hitchin, Keith says, Its tough out there, lets make no bones about it, but the towns unit vacancy rate is less than half the national average five-and-a-half per cent against a national average of 14 per cent. We also have a resurgent market, which is against the national trend. We are being a bit more robust than many town centres, but there are peripheral areas that seem to suffer more than the main ones.



To market, to market


Hitchins award-winning general market is held every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday, and there is also an antiques and collectors market every Friday, a car boot sale every Sunday, and on the last Saturday of every month there is a farmers and craft market.













0 comments

More from Out & About

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

We quiz author Kevin Exley about his new book that takes the reader on the trail of fascinating stories, new and old, around Berkhamsted

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Don’t miss the November issue of Hertfordshire Life - out now!

Read more
Monday, October 29, 2018

Hertfordshire is a county with a vast, fascinating and sometimes dark and bloody history that has reportedly lead to more than a few angry ghosts sticking around to wreak havoc and take revenge on the living. We have gathered 10 of the most haunted places in the county

Read more
Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Make the most out of autumn with these eight walking routes that take in a variety of Hertfordshire’s terrains and - most importantly – have a cosy pub along the way

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

We've selected a variety of spooky activities in the county that are sure to delight the kids

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Christmas isn’t complete without a trip to a festive fair. From German-style food stalls to vintage fetes, Hertfordshire’s Christmas markets have it all

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust’s Charlotte Hussey explores the fascinating world of bats and new projects in the county to help conserve these remarkable creatures

Read more
October 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The People’s Trust for Endangered Species is asking the public to look out for mammals on Hertfordshire’s roads as part of a citizen science project

Read more
September 2018
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

From stately homes to skateparks, we have selected some of the best ideas for things to do in Hertfordshire

Read more
Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The diverse parkland of Pishiobury Park in Sawbridgeworth is undergoing a five-year plan to promote its heritage and enhance its habitats. It makes for a royal day out

Read more
September 2018

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search