A controversial planning application to build a supermarket on vacant land next to a Hitchin pub has been approved.

Greene King's plans to construct a Sainsbury's Local at the rear of The Anchor in Cambridge Road were given the green light by North Herts Council last Thursday.

The Planning Control Committee discussed the plans for more than an hour-and-a-half before 10 votes were cast in favour of the proposal.

"The principle of development in this location is considered acceptable," the council stated in their report following the decision. 

"The design and layout of the scheme would not result in any unacceptable harm to the character or appearance of the locality. The development would also be appropriately sited and design to avoid any unacceptable harm to the amenities of neighbouring properties.

The Comet: Plans for The Anchor in Cambridge Road.Plans for The Anchor in Cambridge Road. (Image: North Herts Council/Walsingham Planning Ltd)

"The development would also be acceptable on highways safety grounds and provide sufficient off-street car parking spaces for users of the site whilst also being situated within a sustainable location.

"It is considered that the proposed development would result in an acceptable form of development that would be in compliance with the policies set out within the North Hertfordshire Local Plan and the provisions set out within the National Planning Policy Framework."

Big changes are also planned for The Anchor itself, including the reconfiguration of the garden and the demolition of a number of outbuildings to make way for a garden pergola providing covered outdoor seating, and four timber huts for private and family outdoor dining.

Plenty of nearby residents opposed the plans, with one of the more than 30 comments describing the development as "unfeasible and ridiculous".

The Comet: Plans for the new sign at The Anchor.Plans for the new sign at The Anchor. (Image: Walsingham Planning)

A second planning application has also been submitted for a new sign outside the site.

"The totem sign will contain two sections of vinyl artwork on aluminium panels, on each side," the application reads. 

"The lower sections of artwork will contain Sainsbury’s branding, associated with the proposed retail unit, and the upper sections of artwork will contain branding for the pub.

"Each of the four sections of artwork will be illuminated from above by an external LED trough light comprising a warm white light."