Old River Lane: Master-planning group chaired by experienced architect Mehron Kirk begins review of plans
East Herts Council leader Cllr Linda Haysey brings Indie readers up to speed with the authority's flagship development: A new cultural quarter to transform the Causeway...
It is some time since I updated you on the progress of the Old River Lane development – our plan to breathe new life into Bishop's Stortford town centre. A lot has been going on over the past 18 months during Covid and I wanted to give you a flavour of some of the activities.
The proposed plans for new homes, shops and outdoor space have moved to the next stage. A newly-formed master-planning group, tasked with reviewing these plans, is meeting this month. The group is independently chaired by Mehron Kirk, urbanism and landscape architect director at BDP (Building Design Partnership).
Mehron is a member of the Hertfordshire Design Review Panel and an experienced landscape architect who has worked on many urban design projects – including in Lewisham, Derry and Marseille – and master-planning panels.
We are grateful he has agreed to work with us on this project. His wide range of regeneration experience on a local, national and international scale will enhance our ambitious plans. He is a resident of East Herts and knows and understands the area, its identity and special heritage.
I know there has been much discussion around the redesigned arts centre and there is no one more disappointed than me that the council is unable to deliver a 500-seater theatre.
During summer, we invited everyone who lives in, works in or visits Bishop's Stortford to say what they thought of the performance spaces proposed. This produced some interesting results.
Respondents were generally supportive of our cinema/preforming arts space, but support was lower in the online survey, which largely represented the older age groups.
The interviews we conducted on street better captured the views of younger residents. Here, the support for our cinema/arts offer was overwhelming, with 84% of 18- to 30-year-olds agreeing they would visit the main cinema.
Proposals for the outdoor performance space were the most popular across all ages. We have listened to your comments about the need for a live performance space and are designing The Studio – our 80-seater space – primarily for that use. The board hopes to share updated designs for further feedback soon.
The car park is progressing well, as are the new homes and office space next door. We are conscious that some of you are concerned that there may be light pollution coming from the top floor, however our consultant's reports show the light levels at 20 metres from the car park are 0.00 lux, the nearest property is 45 metres from the car park. Once the car park is finished, anticipated in May 2022, we can then get on with the main site.
This is an exciting, ambitious, but complex development with an exciting offer to revitalise the centre of Bishop's Stortford, creating a vibrant, attractive space that delivers the new shopping, leisure and business opportunities we know residents want to see now and for the future.