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Developer withdraws controversial homes plan for Thorley Park play area

The site between Winchester Close and Ashdale at Thorley ParkPic: Vikki Lince (8128654)
The site between Winchester Close and Ashdale at Thorley ParkPic: Vikki Lince (8128654)

A controversial plan to build homes on an unofficial play area at Thorley Park has been withdrawn.

Ser Contractor Ltd, of Dorset Road, London, wanted to build two detached four-bedroom houses north-east of Winchester Close, off Friedberg Avenue, on open space enjoyed by estate families for the past 30 years.

The proposal prompted a storm of protest from neighbours, objections from Bishop’s Stortford Town Council and a recommendation from an East Herts Council planning officer to refusepermission.

The authority agreed with residents’ concerns about the loss of open space that is a “well-used and valued local amenity”.

A report said: “It is noted that some of the representations received from nearby residents indicate that covenants on their title deeds confirm that the application site was designated as a ‘local play area’ and has been in continuous use for over 30 years. The site was however never formally adopted by the council and has been privately managed since the estate was built in the 1980s.

“It is understood that the company which currently owns these privately managed amenity spaces is seeking to sell off these assets, which would explain why a speculative application for housing development on the site has been submitted for consideration.”

The land at Winchester Close is also used as a link between estate footpaths, particularly for shoppers using Sainsbury's supermarket and other shops at the neighbourhood centre.

Cadent Gas objected to the development because one of the houses was planned above a MAHP – major accident hazard high-pressure gas pipeline. Safety guidelines say there should be no construction within 6.6m (21ft).

The East Herts Council report suggested that it might be possible to safeguard the site as a designated Local Green Space through either the Neighbourhood Plan or the council's own Local Plan.

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