BSCF further response to planning application 3/13/0886/OP relating to the proposed development at Bishop's Stortford North

Links :
This planning application: 3/13/0886/FP on East Herts District Council's Planning website
Stephen Tapper
Development Control
East Herts Council
Pegs Lane
SG13 8EQ
14 May 2015

Dear Stephen

YOUR REF: 3/13/0886/OP

I am writing on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation to object to this application. It is in all save one aspect identical in content to the application ref 3/13/1501/OP for which permission was refused by the District Council on 16 March 2015 and to which the Civic Federation objected on 25 November 2014. The difference in this application is that provision is made for a 1FE JMI school within the development rather that merely reserving part of the development site for such a school.

The substance of our objection remains the same. At the meeting of the Development Management Committee on 16 March it was argued on behalf of the applicants that the numbering of the ASRs was of no significance and that development might just as well start with ASR 5 as with ASRs 1 and 2. In our view that contention was, and remains incorrect. In the saved policies of the previous Local Plan it is clear from BIS3 and BIS8 that release of ASRs 1 and 2 for development should precede the release of the remaining ASRs. The latter were only to be considered for development following a review of the Local Plan. That review is still in progress.

The only argument advanced for releasing ASRs 3, 4 and 5 before completion of that review is that East Herts as a whole cannot demonstrate a 5 year supply of land for housing. It is however, clear that Bishop's Stortford already has an ample supply of land available for housing with work starting on ASRs 1 and 2 and outline permission already having been granted for ASRs 3 and 4.

Granting a further premature planning permission for ASR 5 will do nothing to address the lack of availability of land for housing in the rest of the district where the need actually arises. So land supply issues should not be allowed to override the assessment of whether or not this could be regarded as a sustainable free-standing development.

For the reasons explained in our previous objections it cannot be so regarded. It would be marooned in the countryside, beyond walking distance of any facilities needed to support such a settlement other than the JMI school. As a 1 FE school this would be smaller than the County Council’s preferred minimum size for a JMI school and they are indeed hoping to establish two larger schools elsewhere within the ASRs. That would make a school on this site redundant, as the applicants are no doubt hoping. Including a school in this application now is merely a pretext to try to side step the Council’s legitimate reasons for refusal.

Moreover, since the Council refused permission for development of this site, the opening of the proposed new secondary school has been deferred by a year. So residents with secondary school age pupils will have to drive them to school, and even those who eventually use the new school would have to drive there until ASRs 3 and 4 are completed, as indeed they would to any of the other facilities they would need until these are provided on those ASRs which already have outline permission.

The planning system is meant to ensure that essential physical and social infrastructure is put in place to support residential development at the time that it is needed. Granting permission for this application, in the very uncertain hope that the infrastructure will appear a few years later, would simply repeat the mistakes we have experienced in Bishop's Stortford too often in the past and undermine the integrity of development control. If the applicants are confident of the soundness of their case let them appeal against the permission which has been refused so that it can be tested before an independent inspector. This fresh application is an abuse of process and we trust that permission will be refused on this occasion too.

I am copying this letter to James Parker, CEO of Bishop's Stortford Town Council.

John Rhodes
President, Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation