Peyton Place

The Bircherley Green riverside as envisaged by Wrenbridge

The best thing about going on holiday with the grandchildren is that you forget about the cares of home and become a child yourself again.

The downside is that when you come home you realise that nothing has changed and you are an adult again.

So I didn’t expect much to have happened in Hertford during my absence. How wrong could I be?

I find that Bircherley Green Shopping Centre (Phase 2 anyway) has been sold  by Diageo Pension Fund to Chase New Homes Ltd. No figures given but the last time I was privy to these sort of things I understood that the going rate for the shopping centre was somewhat south of the figure Diageo paid for it. I can’t see a pension Fund taking a big loss on an asset to the detriment of its pensioners. But who am I?

Where does that leave us now? I and the rest of the town have no idea.

Chase are housing developers and concentrate their energies on apartment blocks. They do not appear to be mixed use developers such as Bircherley Green needs. Despite East Herts stating that any development in the town centre should include some form of retail use.

The closing date for the recent planning application for Bircherley Green was 8 August 2019. You can check it out on East Herts web site reference: 3/19/1308/VAR. It is unclear as to whether Chase will develop the site according to these plans or submit a totally new concept. Or if Phase 1 (Premier Inn Hotel) will still go ahead. I assume it will.

In the immortal words of football commentators using the Radio Times map we are back to Square One.

What kind of retail will want to come here. Where are the residents going to park. What will happen to the bus station, not to mention the waiting room and toilets. And the Riverside Walk featured at the head of this post.

No doubt East Herts Planning Department and all the other organisations and individuals who have posted objections will pore over the details and object all over again.

It makes my head ache.

If it makes you just as confused then you might like to sign the Hertford and Ware Labour Party petition to East Herts asking for clarification. Of course many of the councillors who have chewed these plans over have been replaced by a new Council. They may not be too excited about taking responsibility for past procrastination but look forward to a new and exciting future for Hertford, its traders, residents and visitors.

The good news is that the gates have finally been installed at either end of Maidenhead Street.

Much to mine and I understand many others, the gates do not actually block the entrances completely. There is a wide gap but not wide enough for delivery vehicles but could allow passage for mobility scooters and the like. I am waiting for the driver of a car such as a Fiat 500 to try and negotiate the entrance. What larks!

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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.