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More than 100 objections to building plans for pasture at Rye Street in Bishop’s Stortford

Bishop’s Stortford residents are seeing red over plans to build on Green Belt land at Rye Street.

The leader of the town council, Cllr Miriam Swainston, is one of more than 100 objectors so far who have protested to planning authority East Herts Council (EHC).

Hertfordshire County Council’s highways department has recommended that the scheme be refused.

The former pasture off Rye Street
The former pasture off Rye Street

Agent Mifta Ahmed, of Cityscape PA, in Spencer Way, London, has submitted a planning application to build a block of four stables, a tack room and a feed store, with a floor area of 82.6 sq m (889 sq ft), fencing and a new access onto the B1004 Rye Street.

Fears that the former pasture by the River Stort would become prime development land came to the fore when it was parcelled up and put on sale in spring 2020 and the town council’s offer to buy the whole site was snubbed, fuelling fears it would be snapped up by speculators.

A design and access statement submitted to EHC says: “The proposed stables are not intended for commercial use but solely for the applicant’s private use.” Objectors are sceptical about that assurance and concerned about road safety.

Cllr Miriam Swainston, leader of Bishop's Stortford Town Council
Cllr Miriam Swainston, leader of Bishop's Stortford Town Council

Cllr Swainston said: “I am concerned that this is not appropriate development on this plot of land.

“While the planning statement acknowledges that it is on Green Belt land and that equine pursuits are permissible, I do not believe that is appropriate on this site. In my opinion, there is no safe route for horses to be ridden from this location. There are no bridleways across the adjoining land and Rye Street is totally inappropriate for horse traffic.

“Additionally, I cannot see that there is any safe way for horse boxes to enter or exit this property onto Rye Street, particularly so close to a pedestrian crossing.”

She was concerned about the provision of two parking spaces and that trees could be removed as part of the plans.

Gill Gill is fighting attempts to build at Thorley Lane East Woods after a similar auction strategy was applied to the open space. She told EHC she did not believe the application for stables at Rye Street was a true reflection of future intent.

“Yet another speculative development application with a hidden future agenda,” she warned. “This land, along with others in the town, has been identified as valuable green spaces with high environmental value.

“There are constraints issued by EHDC to protect the land from this type of development and these should be applied when considering this application.”

Windhill resident Rob Francis warned: “This area is in the Green Belt and protected by the East Herts District Plan and by the Bishop’s Stortford Revised Neighbourhood Plan. This site is likely to be further developed over time should permission be granted.”

The county council has told EHC that the application in its current form should be refused because it contains insufficient highway information and warns that a ‘stage 1 safety audit’ may be required.

The authority pointed out that Rye Street has a 30mph speed limit and there is a pavement in front of the site. Therefore it needs details of visibility sightlines, zebra crossings and road markings, gates, turning within the site and street furniture.

*To see planning applications and other public notices for your area, visit publicnoticeportal.uk.

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