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Auction set to sell 'last' plot of Bishop's Stortford pasture

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The "last" plot of grassland off Rye Street goes under the hammer on Tuesday (Dec 14) – with a warning from Bishop's Stortford Town Council that any attempt to develop the site will be fiercely resisted.

The former pasture by the River Stort was first put up for sale in spring 2020. Then, the town council made a "generous" offer to Exclusive Property Sales and Auctioneers to buy the whole site adjoining Grange Paddocks but rejected a demand to pay up to £1m.

Since then, the Indie understands, some buyers have bought multiple plots – and the new owners include at least one determined to protect the open space from constructions.

Rye Street auction (53566243)
Rye Street auction (53566243)

Connect UK Auctions, based in Crawley, West Sussex, now claims to have the last of 11 slices for sale, with an undisclosed reserve, and has given a guide price of £30,000 for those ready to bid online.

The particulars say the 0.11 acres have "further development potential subject to all necessary consents".

However, Cllr David Snowdon, a Conservative member of both the town and East Herts district councils representing Meads ward, is adamant planning policies are in place to protect the open space, which is regarded as one of Bishop's Stortford's last remaining "green lungs".

Rye Street auction (53566237)
Rye Street auction (53566237)

He suspected some owners may have already sought pre-application advice on their prospects of approval to use the land for housing, but he cited the adopted district plan and said: "I'm very confident it would be rejected."

Cllr Snowdon said he was ready to launch a fierce opposition campaign if any proposals were submitted to East Herts Council.

However, he said other details in the particulars, including an artist's impression of a summer house and advice that the plot was "an ideal haven for licensed anglers", was a tacit acknowledgement that the land was not suitable for housing.

In 2018, former town, district and Herts county councillor Colin Woodward urged the town council to try taking ownership of the grassland but his proposal was not progressed amid fears it would incur costly legal bills.

Rye Street auction (53566239)
Rye Street auction (53566239)

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