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Old River Lane exhibition under fire from East Herts Council Tory





A member of East Herts Council's cabinet has condemned consultation on plans for the Causeway in Bishop's Stortford as "absolutely disgraceful and disingenuous".

Cllr Graham McAndrew, executive member for environmental sustainability and a Tory member for the town's South ward, was furious about the exhibition held at Grange Paddocks last Wednesday (November 9) from 12.30pm to 7.30pm.

The council owns the site and is working with developer Cityheart to transform the area into a "cultural quarter" with a cinema-led arts centre, homes, shops, restaurants and offices.

Proposed uses of the site - Charringtons House would be demolished to make room for the arts centre
Proposed uses of the site - Charringtons House would be demolished to make room for the arts centre

However, Cllr McAndrew said that on the eve of the event the senior management team and the executive at EHC were unaware of it.

He said: "I find the promotion and the holding of a public exhibition at such short notice absolutely disgraceful and disingenuous, especially as it has been poorly communicated and held on a working day when many residents are working long hours and holding down a number of jobs to make ends meet.

"The public exhibition should have been held at the weekend, allowing residents of Bishop's Stortford to contribute."

East Herts Council executive member Cllr Graham McAndrew was critical of the timing of the exhibition
East Herts Council executive member Cllr Graham McAndrew was critical of the timing of the exhibition

He said that another consultation event should be held, but Geraint John, of Geraint John Planning, the consultant behind the event, disagreed.

He said that a steady stream of residents had reviewed the initial outline proposals to establish the broad principles of the scheme and denied that it should have been organised differently.

Mr John said that the public would have a further opportunity to comment on the scheme when a 'reserved matters' application – including the detail of the buildings and layout – was ready.

He said it was also key to separate Cityheart's planning application – which he expected to be submitted in December, once the consultation feedback has been evaluated – from the council's own supplementary planning document (SPD) process to establish development principles. That policy is set to be endorsed at a full council meeting on Wednesday (November 16).

Causeway Lane will be a new lane off Link Road to provide direct access to Waitrose
Causeway Lane will be a new lane off Link Road to provide direct access to Waitrose

The scheme set to form the outline planning application includes up to 125 homes, 55 extra-care apartments, 2,500 sq m (26,910 sq ft) of office space, an arts centre with flexible performance space and a public square.

The arts centre is described as "a flexible arts building with five [cinema] screens which would support local performing arts groups, and could host daytime community events, such as parent and toddler theatre and dementia-friendly live music".

Visitors to the exhibition were told: "Live performance spaces will be designed into the foyer, gallery and café/bar space as well as dedicated studio space which is flexibly designed for a range of uses. The gallery space will also provide a dedicated area for community hire.

Arts centre and Waytemore Square (60643421)
Arts centre and Waytemore Square (60643421)

"Waytemore Square will be... an attractive civic, flexible space which will provide an area for a wide-ranging arts offer, from outdoor theatre, cinema and music events to live sports screening and leisure, such as ice skating over the festive period."

Other features include basement parking via Causeway Lane – a new access off the Link Road to provide direct access to Waitrose – and a "market hall" and shops along Old River Lane, which will continue to provide access to Coopers.

Old River Lane (60643423)
Old River Lane (60643423)
View to St Michael's Church (60643425)
View to St Michael's Church (60643425)
Views from Bridge Street, left, and Link Road, right
Views from Bridge Street, left, and Link Road, right
Water Lane United Reformed Church Hall from Old River Lane (60643548)
Water Lane United Reformed Church Hall from Old River Lane (60643548)

The Friends of Water Lane Hall, who are campaigning to save the United Reformed Church Hall from demolition as part of the scheme, handed out leaflets to exhibition visitors and said: "Many were visibly angry at what they found is being proposed."



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