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Stortford Fields neighbourhood centre plans 'better suited to Harlow'

A new neighbourhood centre planned for the Stortford Fields estate would be better suited to Milton Keynes.

That was the view of Bishop's Stortford Town Council leader Cllr John Wyllie when he and other members were given a preview of the development by Frontier Estates which will feature a doctors' surgery, a children's nursery, a 78-bed care home, 26 affordable apartments and space for shops.

South Street Surgery – which is consulting patients about a proposed move to Herts and Essex Community Hospital by the start of 2020 and operates the Bishop's Park surgery – is the front runner to occupy the new health centre and negotiations are well under way to find occupiers for all the other facilities, except the retail units.

Plans for Stortford Fields' neighbourhood centre (22600937)
Plans for Stortford Fields' neighbourhood centre (22600937)

Developer Sam Rous and architect Laura Grimason told a meeting of BSTC's planning and development committee that a formal planning application could be made before Christmas after last-minute tweaks to the scheme following public consultation. Subject to permission, building would begin in 2020.

Mr Rous said: "It's not the finished product."

The centre will serve the 2,200 homes being built on the western sector of Bishop's Stortford North by developers Bovis, Kier, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey.

Plans for Stortford Fields' neighbourhood centre (22600931)
Plans for Stortford Fields' neighbourhood centre (22600931)

Cllr Wyllie was scathing about the design. "I think it would look in character with an industrial estate in Milton Keynes," he said.

"I don't believe it represents Bishop's Stortford... I just don't think it's right for the area. I understand buildings have to be modern and have ease of use, but I just don't like the design."

Cllr Diane Hollebon was concerned about parking provision, particularly for patients at the health centre. The plans show 26 designated spaces for medics and staff with 83 for general use for the development.

Ms Grimason said the team would double-check there were sufficient spaces. Cllr Hollebon said: "It looks good on paper but the parking is going to be a major issue."

Cllr Richard Townsend wanted assurances that the centre would be sustainable, with adequate public transport and "future-proof", and was told a consultant had been appointed to test its green credentials.

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