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

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Mr M Plummer
Planning Department
East Herts Council
Pegs Lane
Hertford
SG13 8EQ
20 November 2013

Dear Mr Plummer,

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

Re: Planning Application: 3/13/1923/FP amended application.
Land to rear of 39 South Street & Riverside Walk, Bishop’s Stortford CM23 3AJ

I write on behalf of the Bishop’s Stortford Civic Federation to reiterate our comments and concerns with this amended application.

The Civic Federation welcomes the proposal to improve this town centre location 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

The existing development on the opposite side of Riverside Walk includes a small car park at the eastern end. The proposals for this site incorporate a further retail unit on the equivalent end area plus a 2-bedroom flat above. One of the businesses occupying the existing block, Paul Miller Letting Agents, had, on the earlier site visit, 2 vehicles in the small car park. Presumably the nature of Paul Miller’s business means 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, thus harder to let, with the risk that 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 with no parking provision for residential tenants of the new flats.

We suggest the plans should be modified to remove both the end unit and 2-bed flat above to provide parking space 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 have been issued with an additional wheelie bin.

B. Unit Size

There are currently at least 2 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 currently 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 the number of public toilets available in the town centre should not be allowed to dwindle without replacements being opened. We are disap- pointed the developer has made no provision for the reinstatement of toilet facilities.

E. Planning Certificate

We are somewhat concerned over the total lack of interest shown when the error over parking provision on the Planning Certificate was pointed out. The certificate clearly states that no parking spaces will be lost when it is quite clear from the plans that at least 10 spaces will be no longer be available. This should have been picked up and clarified with the developer before accepting the certificate. If that part of the certificate is incorrect what else may be incorrect, and/or being ignored, throughout the developer’s statement? Has it been rechecked?

Finally, it is noted that correspondence from the Environment Agency advises that you should carry out assessments related to the specific flood risk (which it identifies as 'more vulnerable') for this site and we assume that this has now been done.

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.