Kevin Steptoe Esq
Head of Planning and Building Control
East Herts Council
25 June 2017
BISHOP’S STORTFORD STATION GOODS YARD
I am writing at the request of a number of our members to inquire about the status of the new station car park which is being constructed on the site of the former station goods yard.
The Civic Federation deplored the fact that Solum commenced work on the site, including the removal of all the vegetation and the closure of the privately operated car park, in anticipation of the grant of planning permission for their development proposals. Subsequently, Solum began construction of the replacement temporary car park which is the subject of this inquiry and for which, I understand, they submitted a planning application which was separate from the one covering the development proposals themselves.
At the Development Management Committee meeting on 17 May, planning permission for the development proposals was refused. The committee was not asked to consider and made no determination on the separate application for the temporary car park. To the best of my knowledge, that application has still not been determined, and it comes as a surprise to our members that in these circumstances construction of the car park seems to be continuing, regardless of the fact that there appears to be no legal basis for the work.
The Civic Federation appreciates that sufficient car parking needs to be provided for rail commuters to replace the facilities which Solum took it upon themselves to remove and for which, according to the officers’ report to the meeting on 17 May, planning permission expired last year. However, we do not expect Solum to feel free to disregard the requirements of planning legislation simply because it suits them to do so. Indeed, by carrying on regardless, they may well think that East Herts Council’s discretion as planning authority to determine both this application and any future development proposals in accordance with the public interest will be diminished.
I am sure that if a private individual had behaved in this way, your department would have started enforcement action some time ago. The Civic Federation would therefore like to know what steps are being taken to ensure that Solum complies with the law.
I am copying this letter to Cllr Page as Chairman of the Development Management Committee, Cllr Rutland-Barsby as Executive Member for Planning and Cllr Gary Jones as Chairman of the Town Centre Steering Group.