Resident bids for judicial review to overturn Northgate End multi-storey car park plan
An angry Bishop's Stortford resident is taking legal action to try to stop East Herts Council's construction of a multi-storey car park at Northgate End.
Clive Risby, who lives in Yew Tree Place next to the development site, has lodged a claim for a judicial review of EHC’s approval of the plans – and believes that will trigger a review of the whole Old River Lane project.
Mr Risby, a vocal opponent of the proposals, has asked the Royal Courts of Justice in London to look at the decision, based on his belief that it was taken unlawfully.
EHC’s development management committee gave the go-ahead in July for a six-storey car park at Northgate End. The development on the existing 143-space surface-level car park is the key which unlocks the transformation of the Old River Lane area into an arts centre housing a 500-seat theatre, three or four cinema screens and possibly the town’s library, along with 180 homes, shops and restaurants.
The car park would provide 546 spaces, with 27 open-air parking spaces to the north of the multi-storey plus a four-storey building with commercial use on the ground floor and 15 flats on the three levels above, along with associated highways and ‘public realm’ works.
The addition of a multi-use games area (MUGA) to replace open space at the back of the Northgate Youth Centre is a particular bone of contention for Mr Risby and his neighbours.
He said: “Nearly 200 detailed objection letters were lodged with the council and only three supporting letters. The town council voted decisively against the proposals.
“An e-petition produced nearly 1,000 objections in only a week and the user groups of the Northgate Youth Centre playing field produced a petition signed by 583 people against the development of the playing field at the rear of the Northgate centre.
“I have followed the detailed arguments submitted to the planning committee and have been concerned that only five of the planning committee commented on the officers’ report. Little or no comment was made upon the assertion that the plan was acceptable in a conservation area.
“In the circumstances I decided that I would apply for a judicial review based on my view that the decision was taken unlawfully.
“I truly believe that this action is reflecting the views of many people in the town and if accepted will result in a review of the whole Old River Lane project.”
A spokeswoman for the council said: “East Herts Council has received an application for judicial review challenging the planning decision notice relating to the multi-storey car park at Northgate End, Bishop’s Stortford.
“The council’s lawyers are preparing a response to the High Court based on the claim that has been received. As this is a legal matter, we cannot comment further on these proceedings at this time.”