High Court judge gives green light to new multi-storey car park for Bishop's Stortford
A High Court judge delivered the Christmas present East Herts Council was waiting for – the green light to build a new six-storey car park in Bishop's Stortford.
The district council's scheme for 546 spaces at Northgate End has been in limbo since planning approval was first granted by EHC's own development management committee in July 2018.
That decision prompted a judicial review bid by residents of neighbouring Yew Tree Place led by Clive Risby. They argued that a multi-storey was inappropriate in the conservation area and that the council had not properly considered its impact.
That view found favour with Deputy Judge of the High Court Rhodri Price Lewis and EHC altered the scheme, removing a multi-use games area planned for the youth centre at Northgate End.
In February, the development management committee approved the revised scheme, which also includes a four-storey building with commercial use on the ground floor and 15 flats above, as well as surface-level parking for 27 spaces to the north of the former cattle market site.
Mr Risby returned to court, arguing there had been no substantive changes. The same judge heard the case on November 26 and 27, and last week his judgment in favour of the council was published.
An EHC spokeswoman said on Monday (Dec 23): "With the judgment of the judicial review now handed down, we are pleased that its positive outcome will allow us to move forward with our ambition of providing new facilities to our growing town including great public realm, commercial and retail spaces and a fantastic new arts centre.
"The construction at Northgate End serves as an enabling project that unlocks the land for the wider Old River Lane scheme and we are excited to share further details of this vision in early 2020."
The council had hoped to begin building the car park in spring 2019 with completion within 18 months.
The development is the key to ambitious plans for a cultural quarter, known as Old River Lane, in The Causeway including a £30m arts centre incorporating a 500-seat theatre on the former site of the 1 The Causeway office block, which was demolished in 2017.
The new hub, which is a partnership between the town and district councils, will be surrounded by shops, offices, new homes and a public square for events.
John Rhodes, president of Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation, said: "We are disappointed that the planning permission has been found to be lawful, but that does not make the proposed multi-storey car park either desirable or necessary.
"Since its purpose is to enable development to take place on the Old River Lane site, we think that before sending in the bulldozers, East Herts Council should publish and consult on their plans for that development.
"Then we shall be able to see what, if any, public benefit will compensate for this gross intrusion into the conservation area and what the overall impact on the road network will be."