BSCF response to planning application for 39 South Street and Riverside Walk

Mr M Plummer
Planning Department
East Herts Council
Pegs Lane
SG13 8EQ
26 September 2013

Dear Mr Plummer,

Re: Planning ref: 3/13/1510/FP. 39 South Street and Riverside Walk, Bishop's Stortford. CM23 3AJ.

l write on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation with comments on the above application. The Civic Federation welcomes a proposal to improve this town centre Iocatlon and is pleased to note that the suggested building heights and design appear appropriate to neighbouring buildings. However, we do have concerns in the following areas:

A. Parking
B. Unit Size
C. Secluded Alleyway
D. Loss of public toilets

A. Parking

The existing development on the opposite side of Riverside Walk includes a small car park at the Jackson Square end. The proposals for this site incorporate a further retail unit on the equivalent end plus a 2-bedroom flat above. One of the businesses occupying the existing block, Paul Miller Letting Agents, had, on a recent site visit, 2 vehicles in the small car park. Presumably the nature of Paul Miller's business means that employees need to come and go during the day. At the time of that visit, the car park was crammed full of cars, some double parked. Adjacent car parking is clearly essential to the businesses currently occupying Riverside Walk.

We believe lack of adjacent parking provision would make the units less attractive to some businesses and thus harder to let, with the risk that the units may stand empty for longer periods.

We also note that the parking area behind 39 South Street would be lost. In total, the plans would appear to result in a loss of up to 10 parking spaces for businesses in this location and no provision for residential tenants of the new flats proposed.

We suggest the plans should be modified to remove the end unit and 2-bed flat above to provide parking spaces for retailers/tenants. The existing block comprises 4 retail units below with further office space above. As such, leaving off the final unit would allow the new block to mirror the existing block more closely, giving the street some symmetry. This would also allow space for bin storage alongside the proposed retail units rather than being added to the existing small car park opposite, potentially reducing yet further the space available for parking.

It is noted that residential users are shortly to be issued with an additional wheelie bin.

B. Unit Size

There are currently at least two units in Jackson Square which are permanently unlet due, apparently, to their small size being unattractive to tenants. There also appears to be a relatively high turnover of businesses in Riverside Walk which may be due to their size.

We believe the risk of units standing empty would be reduced if the development comprised 4 slightly larger units rather than the 5 smaller units currenlty proposed.

C. Rear Access Way

The plans include an access way behind. We are concerned that the secluded nature of this alleyway could pose a security risk.

D. Loss of Public Toilets

Although the public toilets on this site have been closed for several years, it is felt that hte number of public toilets available in the centre should not be allowed to dwindle without replacements being opened. We are disappointed the developer has made no provision for the reinstatement of toilet facilities.

We trust you will give serious consideration to these comments when considering this application.

Yours sincerely,

Les Pinnell
on behalf of the Bishop’s Stortford Civic Federation
cc James Parker, CEO Bishop's Stortford Town Council.