Old River Lane scheme: Excavators start digging new multi-storey car park for Bishop's Stortford
The earth has moved for East Herts Council with the start of excavations in Bishop's Stortford town centre.
Work has begun on the authority's new 546-space, six-storey car park at Northgate End – the first phase in its Old River Lane (ORL) regeneration scheme.
The car park phase also includes a four-storey, mixed-use building, with commercial space at ground level and 15 flats above, plus surface-level parking for 27 vehicles. There will also be 21 spaces for residential and commercial use, making 594 in total at the site.
The ORL scheme will bring a new arts and leisure complex to Bishop's Stortford, alongside a public square and a mixed development of around 150 new homes, retail and commercial spaces.
The complex, which is a joint project with the town council, is expected to include a 544-seat theatre with state-of-the-art staging system, a four-screen cinema and art displays.
East Herts Council leader Cllr Linda Haysey said: "The arrival of excavators marks a key moment in the Old River Lane regeneration project. It signals our commitment to ensuring that Bishop's Stortford achieves its full potential as a place that people want to visit, live and work in.
"Despite the difficult times we've been through in recent months, the council's ambition and enthusiasm for this town are undiminished."
The Northgate End project is expected to take 18 months. The council hopes the construction will provide jobs and stimulate the local economy.
The ORL vision is being supported by a £9.6m Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), made up of a £6m grant and £3.6m interest-free loan.
Tina Barnard, chairman of Hertfordshire LEP's strategic infrastructure board, said: "The start of work at Northgate End marks an exciting step forward for the regeneration of Old River Lane.
"The new multi-storey car park will enable land previously used for surface-level parking to be freed up for a vibrant new arts and leisure quarter and much-needed housing and commercial space that will support new jobs, add value to the town centre and benefit local people and businesses for years to come."
The ORL project is being designed and built by Rydon Construction.
Managing director Mark Mitchener said: "As well as the economic benefits to the local area that should come about as a result of this scheme, the project team is engaging with the Environment Agency to create a wet woodland area next to the site for everyone's enjoyment."