East Herts Council approves controversial plans for 61 homes on former Bishop's Stortford Golf Club land
The managing director of a developer behind controversial plans for an estate of 61 new homes in Bishop's Stortford made an impassioned plea to East Herts Council's development management committee.
Chris Weedon, in charge at Stonebond Properties, told the councillors that approval was "critical to me, my colleagues and our business" in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and that his team was standing by to begin work on the site at Manor Links, off Dunmow Road, next to Bishop's Stortford Golf Club.
His personal plea for permission was countered by neighbour William Stringer, who reiterated concerns about congestion and said that a temporary access road for construction traffic should pass through the golf club, which sold Stonebond the site.
Mr Stringer also argued that the new estate should incorporate Covid-19 measures. He feared that flats in the masterplan did not include corridors where it would be possible to socially distance.
EHC officers, who recommended approval for the scheme, told the committee that current planning law did not allow for such provision.
Stonebond's application divided councillors. Liberal Democrat ward member for All Saints, Cllr Chris Wilson, who is not a member of the committee, spoke on behalf of objectors and criticised the 22% hike in housing numbers from "around 50" in the East Herts district plan to 61.
He said extra traffic would increase pollution around the Hockerill junction, where air quality is already poor.
He questioned whether the 40% social housing of 24 homes – 10 one-bedroom flats, two wheelchair accessible two-bedroom bungalows, five two-bedroom houses and seven three-bedroom houses – was truly affordable. Fourteen will be for affordable rent and 10 for shared ownership.
However, fellow Lib Dem Cllr Terence Beckett, a committee member, said: "It's a bittersweet development for me.
"In my professional opinion, it's the best-quality development to come forward in Bishop's Stortford compared to Bishop's Stortford North and Bishop's Stortford South. It's a good-quality, small-scale development, but I do feel for the residents."
After lengthy online discussion at the meeting last Wednesday (Sept 9), the committee voted in favour of the scheme, which will cost Stonebond £1.15 million in contributions towards local education and transport provision.
It must pay over £1m combined for primary school provision (£532,595), improvements at Herts and Essex High School in Warwick Road (£261,755) and towards future expansion of The Bishop's Stortford High School when it relocates from London Road to a new campus off Whittington Way (£268,005).
The £88,884.07 package of sustainable transport measures include improvements to pedestrian crossings, money to support cycle routes – including one linking Stortford and Stansted Airport – plus a possible 20mph speed limit for Parsonage Lane.