BSCF's comments on the draft Neighbourhood Plan - Examination Copy

This plan is for the All Saints, Central and South wards and part of Thorley

See here for the Draft Neighbourhood Plan - Examination Copy

Planning Policy Team
East Herts Council
Wallfields, Pegs Lane
SG13 8EQ
2 December 2016

Dear Sir/Madam


I am writing on behalf of the Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation with comments on this plan which I would be grateful if you would forward to the independent examiner.

We recognise that this plan cannot determine the amount or location of development and, with that reservation, there is much in this plan which we are happy to support. Indeed, we think it very important that the town should have in place neighbourhood plans to form part of the planning policies to which future planning applications will be subject. This plan will complete the coverage of the town and so we look forward to it being formally approved.

We do, however, have some remaining concerns which are summarised briefly below.

Strategic Housing Market Assessment

We do not think that it is appropriate to rely on this to determine the housing needs of East Herts as a whole, and certainly not the distribution of housing among settlements in East Herts. Our objections, lodged on 20 November, in the parallel consultation on the District Plan explain why. I am attaching for ease of reference the summary of our objections, but would ask that you let the independent examiner have the full statement of our objections as well. We therefore suggest that the reference to the SHMA in policy HDP1 a) should be deleted, with support for new residential development being confined simply to developments in accordance with the Local and Neighbourhood plans currently in force.

Bishop's Stortford South

We appreciate that the wording of the plan, reflecting the hostility of the local community to any development on this site and the conditionality of the policies, has been much improved compared with the version of the plan on which we commented in March. Nevertheless, we want the independent examiner to be left in no doubt as to the town’s continuing hostility to the proposal. Our reasons are set out in our objections to the District Plan, referred to above.

Bishop's Stortford High School Site

Even if Bishop's Stortford South were to be developed, we do not think that the Boys High School should relocate there, because there is likely to be more than sufficient demand for an entirely new school and this would be the only remaining site available for it in Bishop's Stortford. Our reasoning is explained in the full statement of our objections to the District Plan at paras 69-79. We therefore think that section 4.10 of the plan should be deleted.

Transport to Stansted Airport

Para describes the travel time to the airport from the town as being only 15 minutes. This is true only of the train service or (on a good day) a taxi. The bus services take much longer. We understand that Stansted Airport is planning to seek permission to raise the cap on passenger numbers. The cap is 35 million passengers per annum (mppa) and the current throughput is about 24 mppa. As well as creating more job opportunities, expansion of the airport will also put extra pressure on transport systems. We wonder therefore whether policy TP5 should be enhanced to include a specific reference to the need to improve the local bus services serving the airport as a result of the prospective expansion of both the town and the airport.

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

Yours faithfully