Hertford Saved! – Doomed!

So, after 6 years a development on the Bircherley Green Shopping Centre site was given the green light on 25th June 2020.

I sat through 2 hours of the Development Management Committee and frankly learned nothing that I didn’t know already.

It confirmed two things. One it was not viable to offer affordable housing and two, there would be no Section 106 monies.

On the other hand some of the discussion centred around points that had already been explained in the planning application and representations from consultees.

That is apart from Folly Island which will now be overlooked by a four storey edifice about which there was little comment on the design.

I don’t know what I was expecting – I tell a lie. I knew exactly what was going to happen.

A 1961 film – The Day the Earth Caught Fire – made during the height of the Cold War reflected common fears about the nuclear arms race and possible harmful effects of nuclear weapons testing.

It was set in a newspaper office and the newspaper editor prepares two headlines: “World Saved” and “World Doomed.”

Here is my take on things:

I wasn’t sure which one to use so printed both.

I am not convinced that two large residential blocks are going to regenerate Hertford town centre as a destination.

The one underlying theme about the meeting which became more consistent as the evening wore on was this: ‘anything will be better than what we have now’.

I can’t say that I subscribe to that view which was aired by many councillors.

Since 2014 many designs have been discarded by the conservative elements in town who have wrung their hands over the destruction of the Hertford Town Centre Conservation Area. There was no mention of that last night.

So, if the original application had been approved instead of being chipped away by those that had our best interests at heart we would have a development built by now and operating.

I shall revisit all this in three years time. Meanwhile I am going to retire. Again!

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By John Barber

John Barber was born in London at the height of the UK Post War baby boom. He had careers in Advertising, International Banking and the Wine Industry before becoming Town Centre Manager in his home town of Hertford. He has been writing professionally since 1996 when he began to contribute articles to magazines on social and local history. His first published book in 2002 was a non-fiction work entitled The Camden Town Murder, a hitherto unsolved murder case from 1907.