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Historic house ‘shakes’ amid building work on new Bishop's Stortford estate

Residents and councillors fear that homes in Thorley Street are at risk of damage as a result of construction work on the St James’ Park development.

Thorley Parish Council (TPC) has been collecting photos showing lorries accessing the building site via London Road since Countryside Properties began work on its 750-home estate on former Green Belt land off Whittington Way.

Thorley councillors argue this entrance is unsuitable and are especially concerned that grade II listed properties will be damaged.

A heavy goods vehicle in Thorley Street. Picture by Thorely Parish Council.(42386322)
A heavy goods vehicle in Thorley Street. Picture by Thorely Parish Council.(42386322)

TPC chairman Robin Lumsden measured the road width as 7.2 metres (23ft 7in). But councillors regularly see HGVs which are much longer than this accessing the site. They do not believe they have enough room to manoeuvre and should instead be using site entrances at St James Way, Whittington Way and Obrey Way.

Cllr Janet Rolph said: “We just want consideration and respect for Thorley Street residents and their properties.”

Their concerns are shared by residents in Thorley Street. Val Hennessey, who is in her 70s, and husband Phil bought their 16th-century property in 2015 and spent a great deal of time and money renovating it into their dream home before they moved in the following year.

HGV on Thorley Street (42448355)
HGV on Thorley Street (42448355)

But the construction has put a dampener on things. “To be quite honest, I wish we’d never bought it,” said Val.

The tipping point came a couple of months ago. The couple were woken in their beds by their home shaking. They looked out of the window and saw a low-loader lorry carrying an enormous piece of equipment onto the development site.

“When the house shook, it really frightened us. It was really early in the morning,” she said. “With such heavy lorries you’re just so worried for the property as it’s so old.”

Val said that she and Phil used to enjoy walking along the Hertfordshire Way footpath behind their home, but the building work has brought this to an end.

“Our footpath is all but destroyed,” she said. “You’re frightened to walk there with all the lorries going backwards and forwards.”

The first 142 homes of the St James’ Park estate are being built at the northern end of the development, between Whittington Way and the Hertfordshire Way footpath.

The second phase has been granted outline planning permission. This will consist of a further 608 homes, a neighbourhood centre with shops, a secondary school, a primary school, a care home and up to 10 acres of employment land.

A spokesperson for Countryside said: “Our strategy, as set out in the Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP), is for the majority of construction traffic to be routed via Whittington Way, St James Way and Obrey Way where possible.

“The wording in the CEMP does indicate that London Road/Thorley Street may be used as a construction route on occasion, particularly for local movements from locations such as Sawbridgeworth or inner Bishop’s Stortford.

“The access point from London Road/Thorley Street has been used temporarily during mobilisation for selected movements and to deliver materials to the south of the site for construction of the school haul road, including a Bailey bridge.

“The haul roads off St James Way and Whittington Way are being constructed at the moment and once they are operational we don’t envisage using the electrical substation road for regular site access.”

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