Bishop's Stortford multi-storey car park opponents protest at removal of trees
Opponents of a new multi-storey car park for Bishop's Stortford are furious that East Herts Council has begun removing 41 trees.
The district council is making preparations for building a six-storey, 546-space facility at Northgate End which will pave the way for a new cultural quarter at Old River Lane.
The scheme for the former cattle market site also includes open-air, surface-level parking for 27 vehicles and construction of a four-storey building comprising commercial use on the ground floor and 15 flats above.
Yew Tree Place resident Clive Risby fought two legal battles to block East Herts' scheme, which was approved in February 2019, before conceding defeat at the start of this year.
He said: "East Herts Council is going to remove 41 trees on the Northgate car park site. This action is being taken in line with the planning approval, but before all conditions have [been] satisfied.
"In accordance with planning law, the building work cannot commence until the conditions attached to the approval have been fulfilled, so why should they remove the trees at this stage? Once removed, they cannot be replaced.
"We are doing all we can to persuade East Herts Council to postpone this act of vandalism. The town council is trying to encourage tree planting, not removal."
An EHC spokeswoman said: "The tree works are part of the initial preparation for the Northgate End development as set out in the planning permission granted for the site. Tree removal is being kept to an absolute minimum and will only take place where essential.
"As part of the development, a wet woodland area will be created which will become an important habitat for animals and plants, while new tree planting across the site makes up part of the landscaping design.
"Some of the felled trees will be left in place because they will become a vital part of a healthy forest ecosystem and play a key role in sustaining biodiversity. Deadwood also helps to reduce the effects of climate change by soaking up carbon."
The Northgate End car park is set to close next month to enable work to begin in earnest. Once the multi-storey is complete in around 18 months, building can begin on the Causeway car parks to create Old River Lane, a new arts and cultural centre with a 500-seat theatre and cinema, as well as shops, restaurants, housing and a new public square.