Bishop’s Stortford £105 million development opposed by town council
17:30 06 January 2011
INADEQUATE transport facilities, an adverse effect on existing retailers and a risk of flooding are just some of a hatful of reasons why Bishop’s Stortford Town Council has objected to the proposed re-development of The Causeway site.
After hearing from politicians and representatives of the town’s Civic Federation and Chamber of Commerce, it was resolved at Tuesday’s meeting of the planning committee that the town council was against the £105 million re-development plans submitted to East Herts council last year by Henderson Global Investors on 10 different grounds.
Town council chief executive James Parker said: “The town council has listened to the representations of groups and people in the town and has made a decision based on those.”
Speaking at the meeting, John Rhodes of the Civic Federation said his organisation objected to the plans – which include new restaurants, parking spaces, residential buildings and a digital cinema – on the grounds that the Local Plan identifies several town centre development areas, of which this is not one.
He added that the proposed hotel, 100 flats, cinema and restaurants are unnecessary and that the site is in the flood plain and indeed does flood.
Concerns over traffic congestion were also raised while Mike Allen of the Bishop’s Stortford Chamber of Commerce said the proposed development does not complement the existing retail space and will adversely affect it.
He expressed fears that, based on the experience of the Jackson Square development, there could be up to a 30 per cent drop in retail sales during the construction process if temporary access and car parking is not properly implemented.
Peter Mitchell of the Bishop’s Stortford and Sawbridgeworth Labour party later demanded that East Herts council explain why derelict land near Bishop’s Stortford Station is unsuitable for a similar project.
It was then confirmed that the town council, a consultee on the development plans, objects on the grounds that the development will result in the loss of historic sightlines and destruction of open areas, cause irrevocable damage to an important town centre site, there has been insufficient public consultation and insufficient consideration of alternative sites, and the transport and traffic assessment is inadequate.
Other reasons given were that the plan for temporary parking during the construction phase is inadequate, the proposed development is disconnected from the existing shopping centre which will adversely affect the specialist retailers, the case for additional housing and in particular flats in this location has not been adequately made, some of the developments will present a ‘canyon’ which is visually undesirable and may attract street crime and there does not appear to be a full plan for the mitigation of the flood risks.
Three members of the town council present at the meeting – also attended by 39 members of the public at Rhodes – stated that they are also members of the East Herts council development control committee, the body that will give the final verdict on the application at a later date.
Because of this, they reserved the right to come to a different conclusion when applications are reviewed in that committee, based on the evidence available at that time.