|Green Issues Communications Ltd
|6 February 2007|
BISHOP’S STORTFORD FORMER GOODS YARD JACKSON SQUARE/RIVERSIDE DEVELOPMENT
Further to my letter of yesterday's date, it has been reported in the press that your client, Barratt Homes, have agreed terms for the takeover Wilson Bowden who are the developers of the Jackson Square/ Riverside scheme in Bishop’s Stortford.
Your client will no doubt be aware that Phase 1 of the Jackson Square development has been widely condemned by the town's residents because of its excessive height and scale, with appearance and finishes quite unrelated to any of the buildings around it. Reflecting these concerns, detailed planning permission for Phase 2 of the development on the site of the Riverside car park was refused by EHDC, particularly on grounds of its excessive height and bulk. Their decision has the full support of the Civic Federation. Wilson Bowden have appealed against the decision but as yet no date has been fixed for a public inquiry.
As I mentioned in my previous letter, new development in the town centre has suffered from a piecemeal approach to planning, partly because the major sites have been in different ownerships and the developers have not co-operated with each other to achieve an overall plan for the area. The Riverside car park is immediately adjacent to the goods yard site and will now pass into your client's ownership as a result of the takeover. While it is too late to undo the damage of Phase 1 of the Jackson Square development, this change of ownership for Phase 2 now provides your client with an unrivalled opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to achieving high quality development in the town by looking again at how to make best use of the two sites taken together, addressing some of the problems described in my previous letter.
Your client could demonstrate its good intentions by immediately withdrawing the appeal lodged by Wilson Bowden. In looking again at the Riverside car park, I would urge your client to consider in particular the opportunity presented by the river. In the past, the town has turned its back on the river, and other recent new developments alongside it have done nothing to enhance its attraction. But reconsideration of the car park site provides a once in a life time opportunity to turn it into a positive amenity, in the heart of the town, which if treated imaginatively, could greatly enhance the value of all the properties in the area. If part of the site were turned into a mooring basin or small marina it could become a major attraction not just for leisure users of the river but as a new heart for the town centre.
While this may involve your client in some delay in bringing forward plans, the results will affect our town for decades to come. I hope that they will therefore seize the chance to bring forward a really exciting proposal which enhances the unique character of Bishop’s Stortford rather than simply inflicting yet another piece of anonymous urban architecture on the town centre.
I am copying this letter to the Head of Development Control at EHDC.JOHN RHODES