BSCF letter to John Lewis Partnership on Waitrose car park

Letter to the John Lewis Partnership requesting whether Waitrose will allow their car park to be used for the proposed Henderson development.

The Chairman
John Lewis Partnership
Partnership House
Carlisle Place
16 January 2013


The late President of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation, Michael Hurford, wrote to you in May 2011 and again on 14 October 2011 about a proposed mixed use development in the centre of Bishop's Stortford. The proposal, in the heart of the Bishop's Stortford Conservation Area, requires the existing car park serving your town centre Waitrose store to be taken over so that it can be turned into a two storey underground car park with new buildings including a hotel and cinema to be erected over it.

We received an encouraging response to the May letter from Mr Ken Harrison in your estates department to the effect that Waitrose had a 17 year lease on the car park with no break clauses, and which it had no intention of surrendering to assist this development, since the replacement parking facilities would not meet your organisation’s preference for its stores to be serviced by surface level car parks.

I might add that the two year construction period during which your store would be surrounded by a building site with greatly reduced parking facilities would be severely detrimental to the commercial prospects of the store even if (which we doubt) business were to return to the town following completion of the scheme.

Mr Hurford’s second letter to you followed the decision of the Development Control Committee (by a majority of one) in August 2011 to grant planning permission for the scheme and invited you to join with the Civic Federation in seeking a judicial review of the decision – an invitation which your organisation declined.

My purpose in writing to you again is to advise you that as a result of a protracted delay in concluding the S106 agreement, the decision taken by the Development Control Committee in 2011 only began to take legal effect on 14 January 2013. The Civic Federation therefore now intend to seek judicial review of the decision within the 3 months prescribed by the Court procedures. In this context a material consideration in the presentation of our case is likely to be whether the scheme is capable of being delivered, given the previously stated intention of the John Lewis Partnership not to surrender its lease on the car park. I would therefore be most grateful for your confirmation that the Partnership’s decision not to allow its car park to be used for this development remains unchanged, particularly since rumours to the contrary have recently started to circulate locally.

If, of course there has been any change in the position, it would be most helpful if you could explain what it is and why, so that we can take it into account in the preparation of our case.

In view of the timescale to which we now have to work, I would be most grateful for an early reply.

John Rhodes

Reply from John Lewis Partnership  Top 

Reply from Ms K M Frearson, Asset Manager at the John Lewis Partnership, in which she confirms that their position has not changed and they have not agreed to sell the Waitrose car park to Hendersons.

Reply from John Lewis Partnership