As for every one of the recent developments , it has become depressingly apparent that the housing total for Bishop’s Stortford and the site-specific numbers in the District Plan have been treated by the volume housebuilders and site owners as the starting point in a bidding war, to see how many additional homes they can ease past EHDC’s planners, who seem to be unable to say ‘no’.
Every time an increment is agreed it becomes that much harder to refuse the next request. Our best estimate of all the additional homes already granted permission or ‘freed-up’ by new care homes or senior living units is about 600, with a further 550 soon. This is an approx. 25% increase to the District Plan’s total allocation of around 4,500 homes, which itself is a 25% increase in the town’s housing stock. It therefore appears that by 2033 the total homes built (including additional homes) could easily be around 6,000. The first adverse impact is the quality of the developments themselves with too much housing crammed into too small a space leaving not enough for gardens or public open and recreational spaces. Perhaps more important for the town’s current residents is the adverse impact on the town’s infrastructure.
Bishop’s Stortford’s mediaeval street pattern and access roads are incapable of expansion and only the most recent planning application for TBSHS’s present site let the cat out of the bag, in that once these developments are completed and occupied, much of the town’s highway network will be gridlocked. Equally important is the impact on the town’s outstanding educational facilities. In granting itself planning permission for TBSHS’s move to BSS, the County Council acknowledged that its plans for providing secondary school places would fall 2 forms of entry (FE) of 30 pupils short of peak demand. Even this assumed that TBSHS and the Herts and Essex School could be expanded by 2 FE more than their current capacity and that none of the additional capacity would be taken by pupils travelling in from Essex and elsewhere in Hertfordshire, who currently occupy about 30% of the secondary school places. But this assessment was based on the housing total included in the District Plan, not the 1500+ additional homes that appear to be in prospect. These would add a further 3 FE to projected demand.
We believe that the solution to this problem is for TBSHS to be rebuilt on its present site and the school being built on BSS to open as an entirely new co-educational school, rather than providing a relocation site for TBSHS, which, of itself, will add relatively few new places, and for boys only until Year 12. Other adverse pressures arising from these additional numbers include primary school places, various health services – including Accident and Emergency, especially in view of the proposed new Princess Alexandra Hospital to near the M11’s new junction 7A, social services, and water supply, wastewater impacts on the River Stort, storm water management, solid waste management, public transport and parking. Future developments in communities in Uttlesford District that look to Stortford for these services, and over which EHDC has no say also add to these pressures (see also Stansted Airport).