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Multi-storey car park row revives park and ride plea for Bishop's Stortford

Old River Lane. (6706081)
Old River Lane. (6706081)

Park and ride plans for Bishop’s Stortford got further backing from the town’s mayor this week.

Cllr George Cutting spoke out at a special meeting of the town council’s planning and development committee on Monday evening which was called to discuss East Herts Council’s revised plans for a six-storey, 546-space car park on the former cattle market at Northgate End.

The authority revised the scheme which it approved last July following successful High Court action by Yew Tree Place resident and staunch opponent Clive Risby. Judge Rhodri Price Lewis QC agreed with his view that the council had not given sufficient weight to concerns about the conservation area.

On Monday, Mr Risby told the committee that the new scheme – which ditches proposals for a multi-use games area (MUGA) for the neighbouring Herts County Council youth centre – did not address the core opposition from campaigners.

They believe the multi-storey and the scheme are still out of keeping with the historic surroundings and will generate pollution and congestion.

Mr Risby said: “We believe strongly that a new approach needs to be taken in relation to the whole project.”

That view found favour with councillors, who listed their own objections to the development, which includes open-air surface car parking for 27 spaces to the north and erection of a four- storey building with commercial use on the ground floor and 15 flats above, plus highways work.

Their objections centred on:

  • The design in relation to the conservation area status and its scale and height;
  • Concerns over the entrance and exit off the Causeway and Rye Street;
  • Concerns over air quality;
  • Questions over the integrity of the transport assessment and arguing that a town-wide review is required;
  • Loss of mature trees;
  • Pedestrian safety.

Cllr Ralph Gilbert said: “The whole position of this car park is a nonsense. I just find it totally unacceptable.”

Cllr Cutting accused East Herts of making only “casual” amendments and said: “There are arguments for and against more car parking in Bishop’s Stortford.

“I believe there should be a way forward, and let’s hope we find one in relation to this, but I think it should go back to East Herts for more work.”

He added: "I feel quite strongly that consideration should be given to park and ride and land found or compulsorily purchased for that.”

He wants to revisit a feasibility study for the Shaping Stortford group last year which concluded: “Whilst a successfully implemented park and ride service with multiple sites could lead to benefits for Bishop’s Stortford through town centre traffic reductions, it is very unlikely that a park and ride site would be financially viable based on the anticipated demand.

"It is also unlikely to be attractive to drivers without significant reductions in town centre car parking capacity and increases in costs.”

East Herts Council has made it clear that plans for a cultural hub at Old River Lane cannot progress until extra parking is in place. Its development management committee is set to determine the revised plans on February 13.

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