Town council stands with residents against new estate at Stortford South
Revised plans for 750 homes at Bishop’s Stortford South provoked the same reaction from objectors and the town council: “No! No! No!”
Countryside has amended its application for the site off Whittington Way, removing the westernmost access point on Obrey Way, but opponents believe the change does nothing to address their core concerns about congestion and pollution.
At a specially-convened meeting of the town council’s planning and development committee on Monday, 25 residents attended to make their views known as members considered their response to East Herts planners.
John Rhodes, the president of the Bishop’s Stortford Civic Federation, said: “This amended application is no different in substance from the previous application to which you objected and we hope you will agree with the civic federation that permission should be refused.”
Countryside has submitted a hybrid application: full details of 142 dwellings and a north-south primary route as the first phase of development and outline proposals for a further 608 properties, a care home, up to four hectares of employment land, a local centre including up to 1,000 sqm for retail and up to 2,200 sqm for other uses, and primary school up to three forms of entry with early years facilities.
The Bishop's Stortford High School wants to relocate to the new estate, freeing up its London Road site for around 150 further new homes.
The civic federation’s objections were amplified by Sylvia McDonald, chairman of Old Thorley & Twyford Residents' Association, and residents Roger Halford and Ann Lowe. Thorley Park householder Alison Stokes also spoke out and was scathing about councillors who she claimed had failed to represent the campaigners opposing the new estate.
The committee members were united in their criticism of Countryside’s blueprint and concerns about air quality, traffic gridlock and lack of infrastructure. Cllr Ralph Gilbert said: “This is an example of the district council letting more and more houses into Bishop’s Stortford without due consideration of the impact.
“I hope we will be able to refuse this completely.”
Cllr John Wyllie said: “We have lost the battle of the Green Belt but we do not want to lose the war too. We need to make sure that anything that’s built there is sympathetic. Is this [plan] sympathetic? No, it’s not.”
He was backed by Cllr Philip Demonti who said: “I’m absolutely appalled at what I’m looking at.
“What we have got to defend is the quality of life of residents of this town and surrounding areas.”
Cllr Stan Stainsby demanded an impact assessment for the whole town, taking each of the ongoing major developments at Stortford South, St Michael’s Hurst, Stortford Fields and the Goods Yard into account and examining their cumulative effect on infrastructure and the environment.
He also referred to a 14% drop in the most recent forecast of household formation for East Herts and said: “Is this really necessary, given that the assessments have changed about the number of houses required.”
As the committee prepared to vote unanimously to oppose the scheme, Cllr Diane Hollebon summed up their feelings: “The public is telling us time and time again, enough is enough. All of us around the table agree enough is enough.
“Overall this is an absolute disaster...We are all going to say no! No! No!”