BSCF's comments after meeting with Solum to discuss their Goods Yard redevelopment proposals
||14 February 2016|
GOODS YARD SITE REGENERATION
We had an interesting meeting with you on 3 February and some of our committee members also attended your public exhibition at other times over the two days.
As a general comment, we feel that in some respects the scheme has moved backwards compared with the presentation that you gave to us last October. The location and layout of the bus station, drop off point and taxi rank is essentially the same as we have at the moment and so the opportunity for an improved transport interchange and a much more clearly defined pedestrian link from the station to the town centre seem to have been lost. We understand that you do not now intend to allow general vehicular access from the southern end of the site until the last phase of development when Network Rail has released the siding from operational use at some unknown time in the future. In our view, even the earlier stages of development will generate additional traffic and will lead to unacceptable congestion on the London Road and into and out of the station car park without a southern access for cars. And we remain of the view that the tallest buildings should be reduced by a storey in height.
We also have some more detailed questions and points for clarification
- Our members came away with differing understandings of how many 6 and 7 storey blocks were proposed. We accept that the best location for the tallest building is close to the station but could you please confirm how many blocks of each of these heights is planned and where they will be?
- Our members also came away with different understandings of how many car parking spaces were to be provided in the first phase of development and in total for each of the proposed uses. Moreover, we feel that, in addition to commuter, hotel and residential parking, there needs to be some short stay provision – the leisure centre for example has had no adjacent parking since phase II of Jackson Square was completed. Could you please let us have the details of the intended provision?
- In which phase of the project is it intended to provide the second linear car park beside the station? Prior to its completion, how will you ensure that there is no shortfall in parking spaces compared with the present total station car park availability?
- You agreed to look further at pedestrian access to the eastern side of the railway. You will need to visit the Station Road railway bridge in person, and not look simply at your CCTV monitors, to appreciate how poor the sight lines really are for children and traffic approaching them at the top of the steps.
- You were going to let us have your formula for the additional demand for school places which the development would generate and whether this had been agreed with Herts County Council.
- You were going to let us know the outcome of your discussions with the Canals and Rivers Trust about the possibility of providing short term moorings within the scheme.
- Your reason for not allowing full vehicular access to the south of the site from the outset was that the railway siding would have to be shortened by a few metres to enable a right hand turn lane to be created on the London Road at the junction with the site. Given that Network Rail is a 50% partner in the enterprise, we find it difficult to believe that they would refuse to agree to this, especially if they are not yet in a position to say how long they might wish to keep the siding for operational purposes.
- You were going to consider whether the railway might be used for removal of spoil and delivery of construction materials. If you intend to rely on road transport, can you please explain your plans for keeping construction traffic away from the town centre road network?
- You were going to consider making a physical model of the scheme to help residents and decision makers understand its impact. You also said that we would be welcome to visit your design offices to see the results of computer generated images. We appreciated the offer and will let you if we want to follow it up.
As before I am copying this letter to Kevin Steptoe, and also to Cathy Tooze, Head Teacher at the Herts and Essex School in view of the concerns raised in the fourth bullet point.