Stortford South: Graham McAndrew calls for life sciences park in place of 24/7 distribution centre at St James' Park
East Herts Council's executive member for environmental sustainability has called for a "clean sheet" and fresh plans for land at Bishop's Stortford South earmarked for employment use.
Cllr Graham McAndrew, who represents Stortford South on EHC, says the site should be used for a business science park and not the £50m 24/7 distribution and warehousing centre proposed by Wrenbridge and which is firmly opposed by the town and parish councils of Stortford, Sawbridgeworth and Thorley, the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation and thousands of residents.
An employment area has always been part of Countryside's plans for St James' Park, its 750-home estate off Whittington Way, and is included in the district council's Local Plan.
Cllr McAndrew, who is also Herts county councillor for the Stortford Rural division, said the original proposals promised a large number of skilled jobs with high-value businesses, but the current application would deliver "severe traffic, noise and air quality impacts" on residents and roads.
He said the scheme was "a departure from the original concept and to date neither Wrenbridge nor Countryside has indicated where the demand for a distribution centre has come from nor who is driving this".
Cllr McAndrew said St James' Park was the perfect opportunity to tap into the skill base of the local community, draw on the talents of local schools and come up with an environmentally friendly alternative to a high volume of HGVs servicing a distribution centre.
He said: "The Bishop's Stortford South site lends itself to 'life sciences' in the shape of a science park focusing on areas of science, technology, research and innovation. We in Bishop's Stortford have some of the best schools in the country with excellent academic results.
"The development away from a distribution centre into a life science park would lend itself comfortably to the location of Bishop's Stortford within the London-Stansted-Cambridge Innovation Corridor. Stansted Airport and the education being provided locally by our secondary schools and sixth forms to the highest standards in the country all complement each other."
Cllr McAndrew pointed to Harlow Science Park as an example of what can be delivered. The development is a collaboration between VINCI (UK) Developments, Harlow District Council and Wrenbridge to provide 500,000 sq ft of flexible office, mid-tech and laboratory commercial space for the life sciences, ICT digital and manufacturing sectors.
He urged: "Let's start afresh with a clean sheet and ensure that the correct employment for the residents of Bishop's Stortford is catered for rather than something imposed upon us."
His traffic concerns are shared by the county council's highways department, which has told East Herts Council, the planning authority: "Additional assessment is required to better understand the implications of the change of use from business park (office dominant) to industrial estate."