Old River Lane: Opposition delivers petition calling for halt to East Herts' regeneration plans for Stortford town centre
A petition calling on East Herts Council to halt its development plans for Old River Lane has been signed by almost 600 people.
The list of names, compiled in a joint campaign by the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party in Bishop's Stortford, has been handed to the district council's Conservative administration.
The Tories want to build a new cultural quarter for the town at Old River Lane (ORL) and transform the Causeway in a partnership with developer Cityheart.
The vision includes a £30m arts centre comprising a 544-seater theatre, cinema and performance space, plus 150 homes, retail and commercial accommodation alongside a 546-space, multi-storey car park being built at Northgate End. The investment will also feature a public space called Waytemore Square and a new woodland area.
But the opposition parties want the council to call a halt and publish a business case for the project, followed by full public consultation on the best way forward.
Calvin Horner, chair of Bishop's Stortford Lib Dems, said: "I'm pleased that so many people have signed the petition. Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic have changed the economic landscape so dramatically that it is surely right to take a fresh look at the project and then consult with the community."
Elif Toker-Turnalar, chair of Labour's Bishop's Stortford and Sawbridgeworth branch, added: "We would like to see evidence that the ORL development would be a good use of council resources and of real benefit to the community. We would also like to see evidence that it has strong support from the community."
Green Party spokeswoman Alexandra Daar said: "I fully support the petition and the call for public consultation. The environmental effects of any new development must be carefully assessed."
The EHC cabinet has already begun the process of reviewing its entire £122m capital programme and updating the business cases for major projects like the £20m leisure centre at Grange Paddocks and the £16m multi-storey at Northgate End as well as the main ORL scheme.