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District plan inspector removes minimum housing targets for Bishops Stortford

Solums plans for Bishops Stortfords Goods Yard
Solums plans for Bishops Stortfords Goods Yard

Fears of unfettered development in Bishops Stortford have been eased by the publication of the Government inspectors report into new homes across East Herts.

Christine Thorby, appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, gave her final thoughts on the district council’s framework for housing, jobs and infrastructure to 2033.

She conducted an examination in public last autumn and caused consternation when a series of so-called main modificatio0ns were released, which turned maximum housing numbers at key Stortford sites into minimum requirements.

In the latest document, the words “at least” have been removed from the town’s development totals and replaced with “around”.

She explains: “A minimum of 4,426 homes will be provided over the plan period. The wording ‘at least’ for each allocation recommended in the modification is altered to ‘around’ to be more flexible. The modification also introduces employment and retail space which is necessary for the plan to

meet these needs.”

For East Herts as a whole, the need for 18,458 new homes – 839 a year – has been identified, with Bishop’s Stortford as the established settlement taking the lion’s share because of its road and rail links to London and Cambridge. The extra homes should be accompanied by an estimated 10,800 new jobs – 491 a year.

In the town, between 3,729 and 4,142 homes will be distributed across seven key sites:

Around 2,529 homes at Bishop’s Stortford North, including 2,200 at Stortford Fields and 329 at

St Michael’s Hurst.

Around 247 properties at the town’s reserve secondary school site at Patmore Close, off Hadham Road, contingent on the provision of a secondary school site at Bishop’s Stortford North.

Around 750 homes at Bishop’s Stortford South, on land including Green Belt off Whittington Way.

Around 150 homes at the Bishop’s Stortford High School site at London Road – provided the secondary relocates to Bishop’s Stortford South.

Around 600 homes at the Goods Yard, where Solum has already won planning permission to transform the area around the train station.

Around 100 homes at The Causeway as part of the council’s own Old River Lane project for a cultural quarter.

Around 50 homes at land East of Manor Links.

The balance will be made up of infill development and windfall sites.

The district plan proposes the town’s new employment and retail floorspace will be delivered primarily within the town centre and the two strategic allocations of Bishop’s Stortford North and South

That means through mixed-use development at both Old River Lane and the Goods Yard. Two local centres for Bishop’s Stortford North will provide 21,000sqm of commercial floorspace, 3,000sqm for D1 uses – such as clinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools and halls – and up to 1,200sqm retail floorspace.

At Bishop’s Stortford South, up to 1,000 sqm retail floorspace and between four and five hectares of new employment land will be incorporated.

The inspector’s report also says that in the longer term, land at Dane Street currently occupied by the Allinson flour mill may form part of a further mixed-use development.

If Bishop’s Stortford Football Club moves from its ground at Woodside off Dunmow Road, the land would become available for employment use too.

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