BSCF response to planning applications 3/13/0886/OP and 3/13/1501/OP relating to the Bishop's Stortford North proposed development

Land Between, Hazelend Road and Farnham Road, Bishops Stortford, Herts

3/13/0886/OP: Urban extension comprising up to 369 new dwellings (of a range of sizes, types and tenures, including affordable housing), including a reserve site for a one-form entry primary school, and public open and amenity space, together with associated landscaping, access, highways (including footpaths and cycleways), parking, drainage (including a foul water pumping station), utilities and service infrastructure works - AMENDED PROPOSAL

3/13/1501/OP: Urban extension comprising 329 new dwellings (of a range of sizes, types and tenures, including affordable housing), including a site for a one-form-entry primary school, and public open and amenity space, together with associated landscaping, access, highways (including footpaths and cycleways), parking, drainage (including a foul water pumping station), utilities and service infrastructure works (no matters reserved for Phase 1 (130 dwellings), all matters reserved except for access for Phase 2 onwards - AMENDED SCHEME


Stephen Tapper
Development Control
East Herts Council
Wallfields, Pegs Lane
Herts
SG13 8EQ
25 November 2014

YOUR REFS: 3/13/0886/OP AND 3/13/1501/OP

I am writing on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation to register some concerns about these applications. I realise that the deadline for objections in one case has expired, but I hope nevertheless that our response can be taken into account before the application is determined.

For many years EHDC has anticipated that the ASRs would comprise a single phased development and indeed produced a master plan for that purpose. That plan envisaged that the ASRs would be developed in sequence with ASR5, the subject of the present application, being developed last. The fact that the applicant has chosen not to join the consortium developing the remainder of the area but is instead trying to piggyback on to the community facilities and infrastructure being provided by the consortium is merely a piece of opportunism on their part, and should not be allowed to deflect the Council from its original intention that the development of the ASRs should be conceived as a whole and developed in sequence.

We therefore object to this application on the grounds that it is not in reality a free standing application, but part of a larger scheme. Merely to describe it as 'sustainable' does not make it so, and some of its shortcomings become apparent if permission were to be granted for it to proceed in advance of completion of ASRs 1-4.

If completed earlier than the remaining ASRs, the development would be beyond the existing built up area of the town, too far to be within walking distance of the town centre and with poor road and public transport links. It appears moreover to have been conceived without any links other than pedestrian routes to ASRs 1-4, presumably to give colour to the pretence that this is a free standing scheme. This means that access to schools, medical facilities and local shops will involve leaving this development at Farnham Road or Rye Street and then joining the ASRs at some other access point – either further along the same road or from Hadham Road or the A120. In short the proposals appear to generate a lot of unnecessary traffic movements which hardly support the assertion that this is a 'sustainable' development.

If the scheme were to be conceived as an integral part of the development of the ASRs rather than being isolated from the rest of them, then we have no doubt that the internal layout of this site could be reconfigured to ensure that there was suitable access to all the facilities which the consortium will be providing. We agree with Herts Highways' scepticism about this being a sustainable free standing scheme in reality, and we are surprised that the significant increases in traffic at the Farnham Road/Michaels Road junction during the peaks is not regarded by them as being sufficient to question the scheme on transport grounds.

Arguments about housing numbers are a red herring which the Council should ignore. It is time that the rest of the District made a contribution towards the five year supply of land for the purpose. As the application demonstrates, Bishop's Stortford has provided more than its fair share of new housing over the last 20 years (nearly 40% of the total) and is committed to a large additional increment under planning permissions already granted, which will put our infrastructure under severe strain. We cannot cope with another ill-conceived scheme proceeding in parallel with the development of ASRs 1 and 2 and believe that this development should take its proper place at the end of the queue

We trust therefore that the Council will refuse planning permission.

John Rhodes
President, Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation