1 March 2017
Finally after many months of bated breath a planning application has been made for the redevelopment of Bircherley Green Shopping Centre. Both are long overdue.
If you cannot wait any longer this is the link to the the appropriate page: https://www.publicaccess.eastherts.gov.uk and enter 3/17/0392/FUL into the search box. There are pages and pages supporting the application but the Planning Statement, Public Realm Statement and Heritage Statement are the best places to start.
My first impression is that the new design is at best utilitarian (something that is useful or functional) rather than ‘a jewel in the crown’ as some have recently tried to market it. It will make no difference what I think as the plans have been well battered having been tossed between Wrenbridge and East Herts Council for some time so I expect that it is something upon which they are all agreed and can be approved.
The Planning Statement says: 163. The starkly visible, hard and uninviting ‘back of house’ landscape along the north is replaced with a new, high quality, pedestrianised public realm, active frontages and a distinctive ‘feature’ pavilion. Rather than turning its back on the river frontage, as the existing centre, the proposed development marks the new key nodal point and celebrates the new riverfront square. This aspect of the proposed development constitutes a considerable enhancement and it is exactly the kind of exciting, vibrant redevelopment referred to as desirable in the draft Hertford Conservation Area Appraisal.
This is quite true.
The Statement goes on to say: 162. The proposed development is a non-traditional form of development which does not attempt to mould modern building types into traditional forms. Instead the development takes the form of modern buildings. However, the rhythm picks up on the traditional street grain and the use of compatible materials subtly references to the traditional materials in Hertford, combined with modern materials—something which can be seen in many modern buildings in the conservation area.
However recent developments along the river have maintained a uniform style, although modern they pick up on the traditional features of sloping roofs found in historic buildings such as the Seed Warehouse, the new Hertford Library and Lombard House (the– out of shot below).
A feature that the old Waitrose building carried forward. It may be ugly but it did at least try to blend in with the existing riverfront scene.
Any comments on these plans may be made on-line using the link above or in writing no later than 30 March 2017.
So at last things have started to move in Hertford. Things that have been mentioned in previous posts (see right) are mentioned again here with no comment from me whatsoever.
Following the publication and acceptance of the Vision and Design Strategy as developed in consultation with Tibbalds and others one or two of their proposals were taken up by the three Councils. On 7 September 2016 the Hertfordshire Mercury reported that:
Improvements in Hertford town centre to the tune of £1million look set to be on the way after councillors agreed to fund half the project.
East Herts District Council’s executive committee agreed to put £500,000 towards key improvements to The Wash, Maidenhead Street and Bull Plain. Hertford Town Council is looking to contribute £300,000 to the project, while Hertfordshire County Council has also given its backing.
Resurfacing roads and improving pedestrian access are among the key proposals, which the authorities believe will better public space and traffic flow.
The district and town council will now seek further funding for the project.
Then on 1 February 2017 they also reported that:
A £225,000 government grant will help build new health centres and regenerate town centres, according to County Hall.
The money will be given to Hertfordshire County Council by central government under the One Public Estate model.
The council did not reveal which projects would benefit from the funding.
In the Planning Statement it mentions that negotiations are still on-going with the North and East Herts Trust for a NHS walk-in or GP surgery to be sited in the new development. If talks are successful then space could be made available in the office space now vacant within Centurion House.
On Friday 24 September some residents of Folly Island (most probably those most affected) received notice from East Herts Council under the Town and Country Planning Act of the application for the development of Bircherley Green Shopping Centre.
On Saturday 25 September my good wife and I took a stroll through our home town and from Folly Bridge, through Bull Plain, Maidenhead Street, Mill Bridge and to Old Cross the pavements and roads were covered in lines and squiggles of every colour in the style of a modern Jackson Pollock.
At first these seemed quite confounding but we decided that these were markings by Highways for the improvements to the public realm as mentioned above. So, there is a fairy godmother after all!