BSCF comments on planning application for 55 South Street

Email to the Planning Department, East Herts District Council

Ms Ailidh Edmonds
East Herts District Council
Planning Department
27 May 2019

Planning Application - 55 South Street, Bishop's Stortford
Your ref: 3/19/0742

I write in response to the above application on behalf of the Bishop’s Stortford Civic Federation. Whilst we welcome an opportunity to improve a landmark corner building at a major junction in the Bishop’s Stortford Conservation Area, there are a number of aspects of the proposals which raise concern.

Flat Roof

There are a small number of flat-roofed buildings around the town and these are, possibly without exception, the most unattractive and least popular of the town’s buildings. These include the BT offices, the cinema complex and Boots. Flat roofs were a major point of contention for the nearby Goods Yard development and were eventually scrapped in favour of something more in keeping with the majority of the town’s roofscape. The relatively new development on Riverside and recent developments nearby on both sides of South Street have pitched roof lines and dormers.

We believe any extra storey containing residential dwellings to be added to this building should incorporate a pitched roof and dormer windows to sit more comfortably alongside adjacent buildings with similar roof treatment and to be more appropriate in the Conservation Area.

Corner Facade

We feel the opportunity to make a feature of the corner facade should not be missed - perhaps a clock, a mural or a sculpture – which would give interest to an important vista instead of the proposed commercial signage.

Use Classes

The use classes proposed for the first floor are B1, D1, D2 which include gym, bingo hall, dance hall and casino. Some of these uses could potentially cause noise nuisance to existing neighbouring residential properties which include retirement flats.

Access & Traffic

The plans do not appear to propose improvements to the existing narrow access which currently means delivery vehicles often cannot fully enter the rear parking area and park jutting out into the main road, obstructing the flow of traffic at an extremely busy junction.

Delivery vehicles may need to reverse into the accessway, causing traffic mayhem at peak times. This could be managed by specifying permitted and prohibited delivery times for this development.

Access and parking are complicated by a small business development behind the Station Road shops, which requires access through the parking area and would share the access way. These businesses could use the nearby Anchor Street multi-storey car park (currently under construction) releasing parking space for residents.

There is existing pressure on parking in zone B4 from business users which could be exacerbated by this development if insufficient parking is included.

The D&A statement says refuse collection will be on the main road. The Environmental response requires bin lorries to be able to turn round within the development – it seems unlikely this will be possible. Refuse collections will have a serious impact on traffic at this busy junction and impede traffic flow through the adjacent traffic lights.

Herts Highways’ response requires on-site parking during construction. Given the narrow access way and the limited size of the parking area, this is unlikely to be possible. We cannot see how serious traffic impacts will be avoided during construction at this major road junction.

The current traffic situation in Bishop’s Stortford is that one small obstacle somewhere in the town centre road network can lead to gridlock on many roads very quickly.

Financial Contribution

We feel the developers should provide a financial contribution towards improvements to the layout and operation of the Station Road/Newtown Road/South Street junction which could facilitate pedestrianisation of Potter Street.

In addition, improvements are needed to the busy bus stop outside this building which could include providing seating and better shelter. Incorporating this into the building’s footprint would reduce congestion on the pavement at this point.

Conclusion

The opportunity is welcomed to improve a large site which has been rather neglected over recent years. However, there are considerable design flaws within the proposals currently put forward which should be addressed before permission is granted.

Yours faithfully

Jill Wade
Committee Member