BSCF Letter to The Bishop's Stortford Independent regarding the expected application for a Distribution Park at Bishops Stortford South

By Email

The Editor
Bishop's Stortford Independent
12 North Street
Bishop's Stortford CM23 2LQ
14 June 2021

Dear Sir

At Countryside’s recent Community Liaison Group (CLG) on the Bishop’s Stortford South development we learned that a planning application for a 200,000 sq.ft. warehousing and logistics facility at the south-eastern corner of the site will be submitted shortly by Wrenbridge Land Ltd. I attended meetings two years ago when East Herts Council gave Outline approval for the overall development and we were assured that this site would be a Business Park attracting high value jobs in the tech sectors. This is not what is now on offer.

A few weeks ago the Independent reported that this development was set to create 1,000 new jobs but, before the CLG even opened, Wrenbridge said they did not know where this figure came from and their estimate was now 300 - 550 jobs. But the norm for this size and type of distribution activity would create only around 250–300 warehousing and trucking jobs at best.

Our main concern however is that, as a distribution park generating hundreds of HGV truck and van movements, it could not be in a worse location. Its impact on the town’s congested road network will be catastrophic with 24-hour operations and 7-mile articulated truck trips to the M11 at Junction 8 or, more likely, using the much shorter routes through Hockerill or the rat-runs round the south-east of the town. It will also see even more HGV trips through the AQMA in Sawbridgeworth to access the M11 southbound at the (new) Junction 7A. The impact of HGVs through Sawbridgeworth during the current overnight closures of the M11 are a taster of what can be expected 24/7 when the park is operating.

Despite these clear threats to the environment, district and county councillors are only now becoming aware that they have already granted permission in principle for this use in the small-print of Countryside’s Outline planning consent in the face of nearly 1,500 objections. This will be a Reserved Matters application and, as things stand, Wrenbridge do not believe they should be required to carry out a transport assessment nor need to mitigate the impact on the local highway network. They will simply need to show that they comply with the now wholly discredited Transport Assessment carried out 5 years ago – which was a for ‘Business and light industry’ use, not a trucking centre.

East Herts Council and HCC’s transport planners – supported by the Town and Parish Councils affected - need to find ways to make the developers think again if they are not to be guilty of culpable negligence in granting such a “just do what you like” planning permission for Bishop’s Stortford South in 2019.

Colin Arnott
Committee Member
Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation