Report recommends approval of 750 homes on new estate at Bishop's Stortford South
Controversial proposals to build 750 homes on Bishop’s Stortford’s former Green Belt are set to win planning permission tonight (Wednesday, March 20).
A report to East Herts Council’s development management committee recommends approval of the scheme from Countryside Properties – despite 1,392 objections.
Opponents, including the town council, civic federation and Thorley Parish Council, fear the new estate on farmland off Whittington Way will compound congestion and fuel pollution.
Campaigners accuse Countryside of failing to support the infrastructure required for its 131-acre (53ha) settlement, which is sanctioned in the newly-approved district plan.
The developer has submitted a hybrid planning application, asking for detailed permission to build a first phase of 142 new homes and access to the site, including a primary route from north to south.
Its application also includes outline proposals for:
- a further 608 properties
- a care home
- up to 10 acres (4ha) of employment land including a car showroom
- a neighbourhood centre including up to 1,000 sq m for retail and up to 2,200 sq m for other uses
- a primary school and
- a site for a relocated Bishop’s Stortford High School. The move would free the secondary’s London Road site for a further 150 homes.
East Herts' district plan policy earmarks the site for 750 homes by 2027 and removes it from the town’s Green Belt protection.
The scheme has been amended to remove the Obrey Way access after concerns were raised about the northern section of the road, which links the top of Whittington Way to St James Way, being too narrow and potentially hazardous. Tthe changes allowed opponents a second chance to voice their objections to the whole project.
Bishop's Stortford Liberal Democrats have slammed EHC’s “disgraceful” insistence on holding tonight's meeting in Hertford.
A spokeswoman for the party said: “Why should hundreds of residents who are really worried about this application have to travel all the way to Hertford to make their comments and to hear the discussion? This makes participation in the democratic process very much harder than it needs to be and feels, indeed, like a rude affront to democracy.”
The party wanted the meeting postponed and rescheduled at a venue in Stortford.
A spokeswoman for EHC said: “The council did look for venues in Bishop’s Stortford but unfortunately no suitable locations were available. The meeting can be viewed on our website through the live webcast and will be screened at Charringtons House for residents who do not have access to the internet.
“We recognise local interest in this site, but attendance at the meeting does not provide members of the public with a right to take part, unless they have already registered to do so, and the number of attendees at the meeting will not influence the decision.
“Decisions at development management committee are based on policy set out in our district plan and legal restrictions. Comments officially submitted on the planning application will also be taken into consideration.”
If planning permission is granted, Countryside will have to provide land and money to support new facilities for the town.
The conditions proposed include:
- 56 units of affordable housing (84% affordable rent and 16% intermediate affordable housing)
- Land for relocation of The Bishop’s Stortford High School and £4,778,970 for its expansion to six forms of entry (180 pupils) and £158,975 for any further growth
- £4,926,557 to expand Herts and Essex High School
- 2.95 hectares of land for a new three-form entry primary school, including nursery education and £10,000,551
- £100,000 for sustainable transport
- £96,176 for childcare services
- £30,420 for youth facilities
- £121,690 for libraries
- £210,491 for health and fitness
- £765,835 for indoor sport and recreation
- £538,352 for playing pitches
- £72,579 for allotment
- £12,700 for cemeteries
- And a financial contribution, yet to be finalised, towards renovation of the Scout Centre, Thorley Lane