Judge forces multi-storey car park rethink by council
A High Court judge has sided with opponents of a new 546-space multi-storey in Bishop's Stortford and forced a rethink by East Herts Council.
The authority has resubmitted its plans for a six-storey car park on the former cattle market at Northgate End, removing proposals for a multi-use games area (MUGA) for users of the neighbouring youth centre, after Rhodri Price Lewis QC agreed with Yew Tree Place residents led by Clive Risby.
He launched a judicial review application after East Herts development management committee granted permission in July last year, arguing that the council had not recognised the impact on the conservation area.
Yesterday (Tuesday) a pleased Mr Risby said the amendments still did not address his core concern that the multi-storey was inappropriate in the conservation area and warned he would fight on.
He argued the multi-storey should be built on the site vacated by the Causeway office block, demolished in 2017 and replaced with a temporary car park, and he urged fellow objectors to make their views known once more. He was concerned the council was rushing through a new decision in advance of May's local government elections.
He warned: "There's nothing to stop us taking out another judicial review if we think they act unlawfully when they next consider the application."
The scheme also includes 27 open-air parking spaces to the north of the multi-storey plus a four-storey building with commercial use on the ground floor and 15 flats on three levels above, along with associated highways and 'public realm' works.
East Herts regards the car park as the key to unlocking its development of the Old River Lane area into an arts centre housing a 500-seat theatre, three or four cinema screens and possibly the town's library, along with 180 homes, shops and restaurants.
Cllr Gary Jones, East Herts deputy leader and a Bishop's Stortford member said: "Work is continuing on the plans for the redevelopment of Old River Lane in Bishop's Stortford. We are now at the stage of waiting for the shortlisted developers to submit their final bids for the site and we plan to appoint the chosen developer at full council on March 5. We hope to share further details soon after.
"We have also amended the planning application for the multi-storey car park at Northgate End, which is now live and back with the planning authority to consider. This follows an agreement with the court to remit the decision back to the development management committee for a fresh decision to be made. Hertfordshire County Council have also asked East Herts to remove the multi-use games area (MUGA) in favour of grass provision at the back of the car park."