BSCF's Comments on the Areas of Special Restraint

Letter to Bryan Thomsett, Planning Policy Team, East Herts District Council

Mr B. Thomsett
East Herts District Council
Wallfields
Pegs Lane
Hertford
SG13 8EQ
15 November 2010

Dear Bryan,

ASRs

This letter confirms rather more formally than we did at our very useful meeting with you and Martin about the LDF (Local Development Framework), that we would wish you to carry out a Transport modelling of the effect that building on the ASRs would have on the town's infrastructure. It would be necessary, of course, to include the present and intended building in the nearby Essex villages, which were not taken into account in the previous transportation study.

I realise that you are only obliged to do this for the district as a whole, though this in itself would be very useful to see the effect on, for example, A120 traffic. However, the size of the development on the ASRs – perhaps the biggest single development that the District would ever have had – justifies a separate study for Bishop's Stortford.

When the town's transport study was done about five years ago, this settlement was to be about 2700 houses. I am realistic enough to guess that this figure would soon drift to 3000. I am informed by Alan Dean that Uttlesford's yearly rate is between 400 and 425 houses a year. As well, it is intended to complete 650 houses at Forest Hall Park at Stansted and 800 at Takeley. Of these between 200 and 400 have already been built and are included in the yearly total I have mentioned earlier.

There are other relevant matters. First, that the Transport Study consultants were specifically asked in their terms of reference to solve the ASR's traffic problems. They ducked it, saying that it should be left to the developers. However, they did do some modelling (not including Essex) that showed that it would take twenty three and a half minutes for a car to get out of the ASR village onto the Hadham road. This was omitted from the final report.

Secondly, I pressed the 2020 Vision committee to set a population limit of 40,000 for the town's size. I was unsuccessful but I am pleased to see that I am supported by the Region's Final Report 9.5.3 which says that Bishop's Stortford has reached its natural capacity.

Thirdly, the ASRs were defined as housing sites in 1987 by the County. During the 24 years since then, Stortford has changed dramatically, bearing the brunt of the District's housing and almost all of the airport related housing. Three large peripheral estates have been completed. Why have the planning assumptions made in 1987 not been reviewed? This feedback verification should be an essential part of the planning system. What seems to have happened is that they have become ossified in the planning process, and march on year by year in successive District Plans.

Fourthly, we now have the actual experience of Jackson Square rather than simply the modelling of its impact, on which the consultants had to rely, and we have a planning application for major development on the Charringtons and adjacent car park sites which the consultants could not have anticipated.

Finally, the time has now come to face reality. As everybody in Stortford knows, and as we have pointed out in our response to the LDF draft core strategy, the town is quite incapable of absorbing this amount of development here and in Essex and the District should press for the ASRs to become Green Belt so that the more attractive sections of the town's periphery will be preserved for ever.

Yours Sincerely,


Michael Hurford
President, Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation

Copies to:
Councillor M Carver
Bishop's Stortford District Councillors
Chief Executive Bishop's Stortford Town Council