NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN 2 AND THE GREEN BELT
The Bishop's Stortford Civic Federation has responded to the treatment of Bishop's Stortford South in the latest consultation draft of Neighbourhood Plan 2. This site is currently within the Green Belt and will remain so unless and until its status is changed when a new district Plan is adopted by East Herts Council. Over the last 10 years, every professional assessment of the site has concluded that it is a valuable Green Belt asset and should remain undeveloped. We believe that Bishop's Stortford Town Council, Thorley Parish Council and the people of the town remain strongly opposed to its development, and that no planning argument has been made to justify releasing it for development. We feel that the Neighbourhood Plan for the area should properly reflect the strong presumption against development.
The draft District Plan was published for consultation two years ago, and did propose release of the site for housing and associated development. Adoption of the final plan is some time away and so what the Neighbourhood Plan may say about possible development of the site is conditional on the final version of the District Plan making a change to the status of the site to which the local community is strongly opposed.
However, if the site is eventually released for development, the Civic Federation believes that the demand for secondary school places generated by this site, and housing in the rest of Bishop's Stortford and its surroundings, will create the need for another new secondary school. The new school planned for Bishop's Stortford North will have little spare capacity once the new housing is fully occupied and the limited ability of existing schools to expand would lead a substantial shortfall in school places to emerge.
The Boys High School has suggested in the Neighbourhood Plan and repeated in a recent newsletter its wish to move to a new site in the proposed Bishop's Stortford South development. The Civic Federation believes this option should be explicitly ruled out. Moving to a new site would not of itself create any extra places. On the contrary, it would prevent the site – the only one remaining in town in those circumstances – from being used to provide the new school that would be needed. And if, as we hope, the site remains in the Green Belt and undeveloped, the question of the school moving there should not arise. They have tried that once before and permission to do so has been refused. Instead they should be thinking of relocating some of their playing fields there so as to release land for redevelopment on their existing site.
Commenting on the issues, Civic Federation President, John Rhodes, said
'Over the last 10 years, the local community has been resolute in resisting developer pressures to concrete over this vital green lung for the town and our local planners need to be clear that we are not going to give up the struggle now. The so called super school relocation plan was defeated at a cost of £1 million to local tax payers, and the Herts and Essex School has decided that their best plan for the future is to make the most of their existing assets. It’s time the Boys High School reached the same conclusion.'BSCF
Bishops Stortford Town Council published the Neighbourhood Plan 2 - Consultation Copy on March 1, 2016.
Residents are invited to comment on the Neighbourhood Plan. Although some of the policies are similar to those in the Neighbourhood Plan for Silverleys and Meads, others are specific to this area.
You can comment either via the Comments page on the Neighbourhood Plan pages or by emailing email@example.com.
The consultation period closes on 19 April 2016 so please don't miss this opportunity to have a say in the future development of the town.