Regeneration – sort of!

Like daffodils shooting through the winter sludge yellow signs have appeared in Bircherley Green.

Notice that Service Road now closed

This is a bit of a blow. I now have to walk up Bull Plain, turn left and left again to get to the Bus Station. The service road was a welcome short cut although of late I have considered wearing a mask when walking along here owing to the carcasses of large water birds being picked clean by the usual nocturnal residents, and throwaway face masks hiding cheekily amid the polystyrene fast food cartons and remains of Chinese and other meals relieving the hunger of seagulls, pigeons and the occasional crow.

I suppose ‘until further notice’ means the service road will be closed until the development is complete. It means that unless someone digs a tunnel under the Lea, or builds a bascule bridge over it I shall have to continue to walk through town for a few years more.

Chase New Homes have announced that work will begin on 26 October. This is fine despite the fact that as at today (21 October) they have not yet received planning permission from East Herts Council.

Chase New Homes has said that they are being pro-active in trying to resolve outstanding matters, and will start come what may.

Alan Ward, Planning & Design Director of Chase New Homes, said: “The town has already waited far too long for this regeneration scheme to happen so we are going to get spades in the ground and give the town what it wants and needs.”

The ink on the legal agreement between East Herts Council and Chase has not dried. But work will go ahead despite there being no Affordable Housing or Section 106’s being part of the planning application. Such things that are normal in most developments are not considered to be viable if this development is to go ahead. Instead the situation like Fagin says ‘will be reviewed’ as work develops.

Then there is the small matter of other outstanding issues involved in the granting of planning permission: electric charging points in the car park, minimising the conflict between delivery and other vehicles and pedestrians and issues about landscaping, protective railings and mooring points.

No doubt these too will be resolved.

Chase New Homes own the property so I suppose if they want to knock the whole lot down then they can. Legally speaking they just cannot build anything else it its place. At the moment.

However it is a start, it is what people want after all.

Update 6 November. East Herts Planning have confirmed that permission has now been granted. In an email they state:

The application was dealt with on 6th November 2020 when it was decided to Grant Planning Permission subject to Conditions.

What people did not want was the closure of one of Hertford’s most favourite coffee and dining establishments.

Serendipity in Parliament Square – courtesy

As Chase begin spadework Serendipity will close on 24 October and move all its business on-line.

This was one of my favourite spots in Bircherley Green; sitting outside with a coffee and toasted sandwich watching the world go by, often in the company of local artist Lionel Hornsnell, who passed away in 2011.

I once discussed the advantages of retail symbiosis with a researcher from one of London’s Universities. I watched the trading patterns in town from a new perspective. A couple would take a table, one ordered coffee and whilst waiting for service the other would pop into Methvens the bookshop on one side or dash into Going Places the travel agents on the other.

Every one a winner. You don’t see that much in Hertford nowadays but even then no one ever took my observations seriously.

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.