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Bishop's Stortford Town Council backing businesses with property purchase



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Bishop's Stortford Town Council is set to invest in further office space to boost small businesses.

Members of the council's finance and policy committee decided they wanted to be "ready to pounce" if suitable premises became available and chief executive James Parker will now monitor the local property market.

The council has 12 offices for one to three people at its Old Monastery base in Windhill. They have an occupancy rate of over 90% and generate £30,000 a year for the authority.

Bishop's Stortford Town Council, The Old Monastery. Pic: Vikki Lince (47346755)
Bishop's Stortford Town Council, The Old Monastery. Pic: Vikki Lince (47346755)

Conservative leader Cllr John Wyllie said: "As we move into the post-Covid economic recovery, we are looking for ways to support the many small businesses which have sprung up during the pandemic. As the nature of work changes, we want to make sure that Stortford is a town supportive of innovation and has the necessary business infrastructure in place."

Committee chairman Cllr David Snowdon said: "We have agreed to look at opportunities to acquire available buildings in the town centre to support not only office-based small businesses but provide extra economic activity to support our high street retail businesses.

"We are also keeping in mind opportunities elsewhere in town which emerge as a result of new developments, whether as part of Bishop's Stortford North or elsewhere. We will be looking to work with the Bishop's Stortford BID (Business Improvement District) and other organisations in our local area."

Bishop's Stortford Town Council leader John Wyllie. Pic: Vikki Lince (47346781)
Bishop's Stortford Town Council leader John Wyllie. Pic: Vikki Lince (47346781)

The council decided to back business after Mr Parker warned that difficult spending decisions lay ahead.

Its bank balance is set to swell by £6.5m by April 2026 thanks to the sale of redundant allotment land to Herts County Council as the site of the new Avanti Meadows Primary School at St Michael's Hurst.

The council is exploring boosting leisure facilities, with a potential sports complex to the north of the town under consideration, and organisations like the rugby club are vying for substantial grants.

Cllr Holly Drake suggested that any new building could incorporate offices too. She was backed by Cllr Terence Beckett, who added that collaboration with the district council and private sector was important to maximise benefits.

South Mill Arts, South Road, Bishop's Stortford. Pic: Vikki Lince (47346864)
South Mill Arts, South Road, Bishop's Stortford. Pic: Vikki Lince (47346864)

Changes to East Herts Council's plans for Old River Lane, where the town and district councils were set to partner in plans for a theatre-based arts centre, could mean that South Mill Arts requires further investment from the town council to upgrade its performance space. The South Road complex currently receives more than £250,000 annual subsidy from the town.

Cllr Diane Hollebon said: "I think we could get the best of both worlds if we play our cards right. Let's get cracking and try and get the best for the town's future."



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