East Herts Council approves £30m budget for Old River Lane arts centre
A £30m budget for a new arts centre in the heart of Bishop’s Stortford has been agreed by East Herts Council.
Members also voted to appoint a developer for the district’s transformation of the whole Old River Lane site in the Causeway.
The green light came after the cabinet narrowed down a shortlist and selected a builder based on a recommendation from the Old River Lane Delivery Board.
The authority's leader, Cllr Linda Haysey said: “We agreed the £30m budget for the arts centre and are now ready to appoint a developer to bring our vision for Old River Lane in Bishop’s Stortford to life. This is an exciting next step in the journey for Bishop’s Stortford town centre and will allow us to provide the best facilities for current and future residents of the town.
We look forward to sharing further details in the coming weeks.
“Later in the year we will start detailed masterplanning of the site, and we will be asking residents and stakeholders for their input as the plans evolve.
“We’d like to thank our partners, Bishop’s Stortford Town Council, Rhodes Birthplace Trust, Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), all of whom are critical to the successful delivery of the project.”
The town council has agreed to contribute £3m to the arts centre scheme and commit up to £250,000 a year to its running, subject to a business plan. The theatre will be competing for cash with the Rhodes Arts Complex, which will refocus its activities.
Before the winner was selected, the bidders had presented their interpretation of the vision for Old River Lane, which includes residential, retail, business space as well as the arts and entertainment centre with a 500-seat theatre, four cinema screens and café/bar, and the potential to relocate the library as well. Partners were invited to attend the final presentations to
ensure support from everyone involved in the project.
Councillors agreed with the recommended option and approved the decision to invest in Bishop’s Stortford. The successfully awarded bidder will be announced following the completion of the mandatory, 10-day standstill period.
This is the latest in the journey to redevelop the site, following the approval of the plans for a multi-storey car park by the development management committee last month.
The Northgate End development will replace the surface spaces in the Causeway, offering additional short and long stay bays and freeing up land to make Old River Lane a reality.
A £9.6m grant from Hertfordshire LEP will be used to support the Northgate End portion of the Old River Lane project.