‘Hands off Thorley’ warn Bishop's Stortford South protestors
Unrelenting anger about plans for 750 homes on farmland on the outskirts of Bishop’s Stortford was unleashed on Sunday, when more than 100 demonstrators marched against the proposed development.
In last week’s Indie, our front-page story detailed the town council’s opposition to an amended planning application for Bishop’s Stortford South; members of the planning and development committee were united in their criticism of developer Countryside Properties’ blueprint.
In a bid to amplify these objections, Sylvia McDonald, chairman of Old Thorley and Twyford Residents’ Association (OTTRA), called for a protest, and fierce winds matched the fury of the demonstrators, aged 12 months to 80 years-plus.
A group of marshals – including rider Jane Skinner and her trusty steed Arrow – guided the group across Whittington Way to Twyford Park.
The protesters faced an unknown opponent who had torn down OTTRA’s notices, which were posted in four separate locations. Sylvia said: “If he or she wants to see more houses built, we can assure that person that OTTRA wants the same – but we want enough realistic housing for those with little prospect of attaining this dream and in a location where the quality of life for so many existing communities is not so devastatingly compromised."
Among the group of marchers were husband and wife Roger and Sandy Halford, who live in Pig Lane. Roger said that the demonstration was “to show solidarity with the approximately 1,500 written objections and many others of like mind who wish to stop the loss of the green belt countryside and farmland”.
Roger said that although the turnout of the protest was good, the battle to stop Bishop’s Stortford South was far from over. “East Herts Council, after requests to do so, say that they will not hold the planning determination meeting in Bishop’s Stortford. Even though the [Bishop’s Stortford] North and Goods Yard developments meetings were held here,” he said.
“A lame excuse was given, which I believe is an attempt to stifle public participation, and the meeting [has been] hurriedly scheduled on Wednesday, March 20.
“Bishop’s Stortford Town Council and Thorley Parish Council, being statutory bodies, have a right to verbally question the planning meeting for more than the three minutes allowed to each of the public objectors and we look to them to do their duty and fight our corner.”
East Herts Council has entered into a Planning Performance Agreement (PPA) with Countryside in relation to the application. The project management tool is used to agree timescales, actions and resources for major projects. EHC has denied any suggestion that it would face a financial penalty if its development management committee does not determine the proposals next Wednesday.