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Greens call for Old River Lane development to be 'example of best environmental practice'

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General Views, Bishops Stortford. Causeway Car Park. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (8971289)
General Views, Bishops Stortford. Causeway Car Park. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (8971289)

The Green Party supports investment in Bishop’s Stortford town centre. We welcome a multi-use venue at the Old River Lane site, combining council services with other provisions but we feel it needs to be a community venue that is accessible, sustainable and affordable

to all. We are concerned that it might represent another example of our high-waste culture, where a shiny new building leads us to throw away what already exists.

The council has been influenced by Chester’s Storyhouse – itself a great success - built on the site of the city’s Odeon cinema: replacing it, the main library and the main theatre (which became a 120-seat studio space). Can our town fill two large theatre spaces?

Many other multi-use venues have been created, to put emphasis on improving footfall to libraries. Central to Chester Storyhouse is a library that is open until 11pm every day!

Affordable housing, an enhanced library and a thriving local market would be key to our proposals – a hub of sustainable activity, supporting the whole community.

Consultation shows residents feel there are not enough facilities for teenagers yet the council minutes (July 17, 2018) state that a ‘niche’ cinema aimed at a ‘more mature audience’ is best suited for this space. Is another cinema a good use of tax-payers’ money

when we have the Empire and Rhodes Screen? Cinema use in the town is below capacity and many theatre performances are not sell-outs.

We would use the proposed cinema space for a smaller studio theatre venue, allowing for programming of productions that may draw smaller audiences but give access to a wider range of theatrical/musical experiences. A larger theatre with Rhodes must have

significantly different programming for different target markets, to be sustainable. Hire costs should not be prohibitively expensive and adequate backstage access, outside of the pedestrianised area, is crucial.

Bishop’s Stortford is, historically, a market town. We support the pedestrianised area having a regular market. The Green Party supports trade from local companies and co-operatives, we would call for a reduction in business rates/stall fees for local, independent traders.

Local businesses boost the local economy.

We oppose the new multi-storey car park, which encourages visitors to park north of the high street and move directly to the new development. Current plans make it easier for people to overlook the rest of the town. Town planning needs to encourage people to use

existing businesses. We would work with establishments to offer pre and post-theatre menus and introduce a free shuttlebus between town and Rhodes, for audience members, before and after performances.

The Old River Lane site should be an example of best environmental practice. We would expect it to use renewable energy and green waste technologies. In an historic location, next to a beautiful park, reclaimed and eco-friendly materials should be used in its

construction. As it will be surrounded by busy roads, green walls would mean that the development could alleviate air pollution rather than trapping it: a building for future generations.

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