Democratic Services Manager
East Herts Council
SG13 8EQ 26 January 2020
Dear Ms Dobson
THE BISHOP’S STORTFORD BOYS HIGH SCHOOL
I am writing on behalf of the Bishop’s Stortford Civic Federation to request that the Council does not approve the masterplan for the redevelopment of this site at its extraordinary meeting on 29 January. Our reasons for making this request are as follows:
No planning permission for the site can be exercised or redevelopment of the site take place unless and until the school has relocated to its intended new site which, at its earliest, will still be some years away. There is therefore no pressing or urgent need to adopt a masterplan now.
Policy BISH6 in the District Plan which covers the potential redevelopment of the site says
‘A Masterplan will be collaboratively prepared, involving site promoters, landowners, East Herts Council, Bishop’s Stortford Town Council and other key stakeholders.’
So far as the Bishop’s Stortford Civic Federation are concerned the authors of the masterplan have provided only token observance of this requirement. We were invited to only one meeting of the steering group and learned only by chance that a masterplan was being tabled for approval at this week’s Council meeting.
Perhaps more surprising, given that the officers’ report identifies traffic impacts as one of the key concerns about the proposed redevelopment of the site, Herts Highways was only invited to one meeting of the steering group.
Of even more concern on the issue of traffic impacts is the fact that the masterplan is not supported by any traffic and transport assessment. In its present form it is therefore not fit for purpose and this reason alone should be sufficient to persuade the Council not to adopt it.
Finally, Policy BISH6 says that the site will be used to provide around 150 homes. The Inspector amended the wording qualifying the number from ‘at least’ to ‘around’ at the last stage of the process before adoption of the District Plan to make it absolutely clear that the number was indicative of the actual amount to be provided on the site – not the figure to be treated by developers as a floor from which the number could be bid upwards to the most that they could cram in. East Herts Council has more than a 5 year land supply for housing – most of it being provided in Bishop’s Stortford. Bishop’s Stortford is already destined to provide 25% of the housing for the whole of the district over the Plan period, a volume far in excess of the demand arising in the town and surrounding area. No planning argument has been advanced to increase the allocation for Bishop’s Stortford in total or on this site in particular. A masterplan which contemplates developing 223 homes on the site is therefore contrary to the relevant policy in the District Plan and this reason also means that it should not be adopted by the Council.
I would be grateful if you could draw this representation to the attention of all Councillors before they meet on 29 January.