Bishop's Stortford South: Hertfordshire County Council recommends refusal for St James' Park 24/7 logistics centre
Council highways experts have backed opponents of a proposed 24/7 logistics centre for Bishop's Stortford South.
Hertfordshire County Council has recommended that planning authority East Herts Council refuse an application for the £50m scheme from developer Wrenbridge.
The company wants to build the warehousing and distribution centre on 8.5 acres (3.44 hectares) of former farmland which is now part of the 750-home St James' Park estate.
When housebuilder Countryside was granted outline planning permission for the new settlement off Whittington Way two years ago, the scheme included a business park. Wrenbridge argues its proposal is consistent with that.
However, opponents including Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgeworth town councils, Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation, Thorley Parish Council and an army of residents who have signed a petition against the project say that what is now being planned is a significant deviation.
A stream of HGVs servicing the site around the clock and the disturbance, congestion and pollution they will cause are at the heart of their concerns.
Cllr Diane Hollebon, a Stortford South ward member on the town and district councils, said: "It's an industrial mess as far as I'm concerned. It's a total mess and it's in the wrong place."
Wrenbridge has said that HGVs will be "encouraged" to use the A120 to get to the M11 rather than go through Hockerill or Sawbridgeworth, but she pointed to the Haslemere industrial estate in Pig Lane as an example of a development that does not work next to homes and predicted "absolute chaos" on local roads.
Now the county council's highways department has raised a catalogue of concerns about the scheme and questioned assumptions about how much traffic will be generated.
Its report to EHC says: "Additional assessment is required to better understand the implications of the change of use from business park (office dominant) to industrial estate. The applicant has not provided a breakdown of the scale of each use and so an appropriate trip generation cannot be established.
"The trip generation of the site needs to be broken down by HGV and private car to understand the increase in HGV traffic associated with the changes to the scheme."
The county council has also criticised the lack of detailed designs showing adequate provision for pedestrians, cyclists and disabled drivers, questioned waste collection provision and expressed concerns about "displacement of lorry parking onto the wider network" if on-site spaces are insufficient.
Once complete, St James' Park will be a mixed-use development comprising 750 homes, a neighbourhood centre with shops, a primary school, care home and employment space. It will also be home to an expanded Bishop's Stortford High School, freeing up the secondary's current campus at London Road for further housing.