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Stortford Fields: Town councillors pan plans by developers consortium for 100 homes on site formerly marked for school

Plans for a further 100 homes at Stortford Fields on land previously earmarked for a school have been panned by Bishop’s Stortford Town Council.

The Bishop’s Stortford North Consortium of housebuilders and Herts County Council have submitted a joint planning application to East Herts Council for permission to build on land west of Foxdells Lane and north of Whitehall Lane.

The site was formerly marked for one of three primary schools originally planned for the Stortford Fields development and for Countryside’s St Michael’s Hurst estate, which together form the Bishop's Stortford North scheme of more than 2,500 homes.

Avanti Meadows Primary School, artist's impression (42470038)
Avanti Meadows Primary School, artist's impression (42470038)

Furthermore, Countryside wants to build 50 homes on its redundant school site between Hazel End Road and Farnham Road.

The sites are available because the county council, as education authority, decided two larger schools were more efficient.

It bought allotment land off Farnham Road from the town council for Avanti Meadows, a new three-form-of-entry (3FE) primary school set to take 90 reception class pupils from September 2021 and grow to 630 across its seven year groups. It will also have a 26-place nursery.

Avanti Meadows Primary School, Farnham Road, Bishop's Stortford. New Primary under construction - viewed from Rye Street. .Pic Vikki Lince. (42470056)
Avanti Meadows Primary School, Farnham Road, Bishop's Stortford. New Primary under construction - viewed from Rye Street. .Pic Vikki Lince. (42470056)

The Avanti Schools Trust will also be responsible for a 420-pupil, 2FE primary in the west, near Hoggate’s Wood, and for a secondary school with 900 places on a campus straddling the A120 bypass.

At an online meeting, members of the town council's planning and development committee formally objected to the 100-homes scheme submitted by the consortium and county council.

Cllr Richard Townsend said: “Of all the developments we have seen on this council, this has some of the most scathing comments by statutory consultees.

“It seems this is an ill-thought-out development that frankly needs a lot of work. A hundred houses on this site is far too many.”

Its conservation and urban design principles have already been criticised by EHC, which will ultimately determine the application, and the town council shared officer Stephen Tapper’s conclusions.

His report says: “We have overlaid the proposal site onto the mapping for the wider neighbourhood in order to compare the proposed density... with the existing residential neighbourhood to the south-east.

“It is noted that the existing residential neighbourhood to the south-east has a maximum density of 20 dwellings per hectare (dph) whereas the proposed site is 43.4 dph (considering 100 dwellings on a site area of 2.3 hectares).

“The urban grain and character of the new neighbourhood will therefore be a stark difference from the existing and is unacceptable.

“In summary, the current proposals are considered to be incomplete and not fully resolved. It is unacceptable due to the high density and the proposed removal of existing mature tree groups.”

Mr Tapper said that if the plans could not be revised, they should be withdrawn or refused.

Bishop’s Stortford Civic Federation objects to the application for 100 homes and other housing schemes which it says amount to an extra 567 dwellings. It argues that more primary places will be required and that a further school must be built on Stortford North on one of the sites.

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