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IT VET vows to appeal after East Herts Council blocks expansion plans in Bishop's Stortford

IT VET, London Road, Bishops Stortford. Exterior. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (12291527)
IT VET, London Road, Bishops Stortford. Exterior. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (12291527)

A Bishop's Stortford boss has vowed to battle East Herts Council (EHC) for planning permission to expand his business.

A "staggered" Richard Fountain, who runs IT VET from the former Tanners Arms pub in London Road said he would appeal after the authority rejected his scheme for additional office space - despite a raft of support from town residents.

When the town council considered the proposals for a temporary building, the planning and development committee did not raise an objection but commented that the design was unsympathetic.

Mr Fountain feared the district will go a step further and refuse despite a number of householders and Parsonage Residents Association writing to support the application and last Wednesday (June 12) his suspicions were confirmed.

The refusal notice for the plans says the scheme has been rejected because: "The proposed development fails to achieve a high standard of design to respond to the context of the site or to reflect local distinctiveness. The development would therefore be harmful to the character and appearance of the site and surrounding area."

Officers concluded that while the former public house was not listed, historic mapping indicated a building on the site dated back to at least 1879.

The council's concerns were at odds with the scheme's supporters. Parsonage Resident Association, a member association of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation, cited: "Local support for this development which gives additional workplace space and services to the community. In keeping with the EHC view of increased employment in the Innovation Corridor (London - Cambridge). Has minimal additional traffic impact on Hockerill Crossroads and is in keeping with the area and planned development at the Goods Yard."

Mr Fountain took to social media to vent his frustration in the run-up to refusal, using the civic federation's Facebook page to say: "Most of you may know that we occupy the old Tanners Arms building. A building which we purchased five years ago, to secure our presence in the town. In that time we have quadrupled in size so that we now need additional space to fit everyone in, as it's getting a little bit cosy!

"We have plans to knock down the building and build a multi-storey office block similar to the ones adjacent to us. However, that will not be for around four to five years. But in the meantime, we need some temporary additional office space. So we decided to purchase a temporary modular building and site it in our large garden area behind the fence line."

The proposed building would measure 7.2m by 6m with a maximum height of 3m above ground level and accommodate one multi-purpose room for six desks with an internal floor area of 43.2 sqm. The business' car park currently has enough spare capacity to accommodate the vehicles of the four staff extra staff planned and the company also promotes sustainable transport alternatives.

Mr Fountain said he had been warned the district would refuse because the project was out of keeping with the area and did not include enough parking, but he believed the decision was delayed after East Herts and town Cllr George Cutting intervened.

He told the Independent: "As far as I know it's been deferred...We were originally told it was going to be refused.

"If they do refuse then yes, we will appeal."

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