But what is to be fate of that great wen of all? The monster called … ?
William Cobbett (1762 – 1835) Rural Rides, 1822.
You may ask what William Cobbett has to do with modern day Hertford. In Cobbett’s time the Great Wen, the monster, was London. Today the great wen (or sore) in the middle of town is Bircherley Green – no more deserved of being called a shopping centre.
Finally Chase New Homes has submitted a planning application for Bircherley Green and the plans have now been published for comment by East Herts Council.
I cannot find much to commend this application and I will post my full letter of objection at a later date here.
This is the riverside view which appears to have been stretched:
My initial reaction is that these apartment blocks A & B, being retail premises with four storeys of apartments above will tower over everything else in the vicinity.
Chase believe that it will not completely overpower the existing skyline. I have news for them. It will hang over Folly Island and cast its shadow deep. At night the lights from all the apartments together will detract from the night sky, the stars and the transition of the moon.
This is not what we should expect of a county town where private developments are allowed to overpower the town’s heritage.
Hertford Town Centre can be defined to the north, south, east and west by the River Lea, Gascoyne Way, South Street and North Road respectively. With very exceptions all buildings within this boundary which is the Hertford Town Conservation Area, are mentioned in the Department of National Heritage Revised List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historical Interest (1996).
The overwhelming majority are Grade II but Hertford Castle, The Friends Meeting House and Shire Hall are all Grade I. With help from the Home Office, the County Council restored the building during 1988-90, and the project was Commended by The Civic Trust in 1992.
‘A threat of wholesale re-development blighted the core of Hertford for more than twenty years. Once that threat was removed in the late 1970’s the town blossomed, and the new buildings which have appeared generally rest easily,in scale and detail, with their mature neighbours.’
Russell Moye, Project Architect, Shire Hall. Writing in ‘The Restoration of Shire Hall Hertford, 1990’.
No more do they rest easy; now we have the great wen, William Cobbett’s monster.
In line with previous planning applications this one fails to address the problem of parking. There will be 100 apartments (38 one bedroom and 62 two bedroom) and the hotel will have 68 rooms. Bircherley Green car park has only 188 spaces, of which 40 spaces will be dedicated to residents, 5 car club and 143 Pay and Display.
The new apartments will bring to the centre of town an extra 100 – 150 new residents along with occasional visitors who will need to park their cars; the hotel will need parking even for overnight guests, the patients attending the proposed surgery will also need to park along with all those tourists, visitors, shoppers and leisure seekers who will be coming to this destination (Chase’s word not mine). How can a lego brick be a destination? Then factor in the increase in internet deliveries. It is folly to think that all this traffic will fit in to the town centre. The maths do not add up.
The application does not state how many of the apartments will be affordable; but does explain why the emphasis is on younger, mobile, socially active couples and not much in the way of facilities for the disabled.
Permission is being sought for a NHS super surgery and another large retailer (no names, no pack drill) before they can go ahead to let premises. Retail premises could be large, small or any size anyone wants by adjusting the available space.
There is a new bus station waiting room but not much on a new ‘as it happens’ information board, small catering facility or toilets; although there appears to be three doors on the site plan where the existing ones are now.
With more residents crammed into the centre of this medieval town with few parking spaces, an increase in bars and restaurants and a hotel as well, there is little in the application to explain how other issues like late night noise from traffic and revellers will be addressed. No mention of CCTV or licensing terms.
Enough for now.
I will post my objection in full on this site but in the meantime read the application and all supporting documents and see what you think.
Sometimes I think I am living in a different universe from everyone else. Apart from a message on Hertford.net no one else seems to be the slightest concerned that the planning application for Bircherley Green Shopping Centre has been withdrawn.
So now we await an approach from Chase Homes regarding their proposals for the site which may or may not include a hotel, NHS surgery, prime retail space or hot food take-away premises.
It might appear that East Herts Council have missed an opportunity to invest in the town. All I have heard since moving to Hertford in 1980 and all through my years as Town Centre Manager is the same refrain: ‘Hertford is the county town’ followed by a list of things that should have been done, or hasn’t been done, or has been done, that has added nothing to Hertford.
Towns and cities had to bid for the £95m funding, which was first announced in May.
“Our nation’s heritage is one of our great calling cards to the world, attracting millions of visitors to beautiful historic buildings that sit at the heart of our communities,” said Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan.
“It is right that we ensure these buildings are preserved for future generations but it is important that we make them work for the modern world.”
Maybe an application was doomed to fail but you have to try.
Hertford is the county town. Nearly all of the buildings in the town centre, which is considered a Local Conservation Area in its own right, feature in the Government’s list of buildings considered to be of architecturally or historic interest.
“Under the scheme, districts of our size were limited to one bid so we had to select the town with the best chance of success.
“In submitting the bid, we knew that by most measures within the scheme (e.g. vacancy levels) none of East Herts’ towns are in the ‘failing’ category.
“The principle vehicle for improving Hertford town centre is the Bircherley Green redevelopment which is not owned by the council so the basis of a bid would not have met the HSF criteria.”
No council at any level gave any support to the Hidden Hertford project which sought to attract visitors to the county town. Well, not until I had already raised over £32,000 towards the project. The aims and results of the Hidden Hertford project can be viewed here.
In 2010 East Herts Council paid me to produce a report to provide a series of environmentally sound projects at minimal cost with maximum benefit to the community.
After a lengthy consultation with a wide range of businesses, traders and organisations which had an interest in the town I suggested the following, amongst others, based upon the success of what had already been achieved with Hidden Hertford (see above):
Tenants of listed buildings should be responsible for their maintenance
New town centre signage and visitor maps
More benches throughout the town
More salt bins in vulnerable places
Using litter bins to take recycling products in place of anonymous bollards
Bikes for hire at bus and rail station
Community toilet scheme
The motive behind all the above was to attract more visitors to Hertford and to make their stay as enjoyable as possible whilst improving the local economy.
Not surprisingly none of the above were introduced.
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!
So, the powers of conservatism in Hertford have finally won. The developers have pulled out of the second phase of the Bircherley Green redevelopment scheme.
This is a Pyrrhic victory at best. We are left with a shopping centre with empty and boarded up shops and grass growing through every crack like a town in a Hollywood Western.
This all began in 2014 or even earlier. In 2013 perhaps I was invited to a workshop to discuss the introduction of what was to become the Hertford Town Centre Urban Design Strategy (HTCUDS). I was flattered to be invited to this as I had only just retired as Town Centre Manager and the invite was on the basis that I knew more than most what actually went on in town. I should not have been surprised to find that I was the only person at the meeting at Wallfields not employed or connected to any Council; County, District or Town.
One thing not discussed was the need for another hotel in town. I was surprised to find that in the first submission by Wrenbridge there were plans for a new hotel – a Premier Inn. I thought this even odder when the first draft of the HTCUDS also contained reference to a new hotel.
The redevelopment proposals came about as Waitrose had strongly indicated their intention to leave Hertford as early perhaps as 2010. Despite numerous plans suggested by the owners Diageo and managing agents Savills over the previous years there was no way that the store could be extended to meet Waitrose’s requirements.
Once the die had been cast the net was spread but no other group wanted the premises as they all insisted on having parking on the flat. I am told that shoppers would rather walk to their car in the rain than use a lift! Of course Waitrose plans to move to Van Hages also met with strenuous dissent and they were constantly rejected.
Enter Wrenbridge who organised a series of public exhibitions to explain their plans. See bircherley-green. From here on in Planning, Council and Councillors, not to mention interested groups in town and other concerned residents launched campaigns and legal moves to thwart any development at all.
In my mind if someone came along with £40m and offered to regenerate the shopping centre I would have bitten their hand off – but this is conservative Hertford.
It was said that Bircherley Green was part of the Hertford Conservation Area. True, but the whole of Hertford is. Bircherley Green was built in the early 1980’s and has no special architectural or historical merit to deserve preserving and enhancing.
There is not enough space to list all the objections but one was that there were no tenants to fill the proposed retail units. Of course not. Even Premier Inn only signed up to the scheme on the understanding that planning permission was forthcoming. Who is going to commit to a unit that would not be ready for another three years, knowing as we do the machinations of our local councils.
So for the next three years Wrenbridge submitted plans, revised plans and new plans. All of which were poked over like a diner in a new restaurant presented with the chef’s specialty and testing to see if it was still alive.
It is surprising that it too so long for the developers to walk away. I would have walked a long time ago. If Council did not want a new shopping centre with retail units, restaurants, coffee shop and upgraded bus station then I would raise two fingers and put my money where it is wanted.
Meanwhile in Stevenage (from BBC News, 14 March 2019):
Britain’s first new town is set to get a £350m revamp inspired by some of Europe’s most thriving cities.
The regeneration of Stevenage includes new shops, bars, restaurants, 600 homes, a park and a council building.
The borough council said it had studied successful examples from the continent in designing the mix of residential, retail, office and leisure uses.
The SG1 project will take up to eight years to complete in phases and it is hoped work could begin in 2020.
But this is Hertford and nothing ever happens in Hertford. We just slide into anonymity. People still tell me that this is the county town – with no County Court and no shops. Just the place to come to.
I have sat in workshops with traders from Hertford and along with counterparts from Ware have all stated. ‘We do not want to shop in Harlow, Welwyn, Stevenage or Cambridge but the state of shopping in our own town leaves us no choice. We have to travel or use the internet.’
So what happens now? No idea!
What i do know is that the planning application due to be heard on 19th June has now been withdrawn in total. This means that the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater and a new planning application will have to be submitted, approved and heard by the Development Management Committee at the next available date which could be July or even August.
In the meantime this is the view of the hotel site.
The hoardings have been painted a deep shade of black; very nouveau.
With acknowledgements to Laurence Sterne and ‘The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman’.
He also left a page blank to insert your own image of a beautiful young lady. We are a long way from that in Hertford; a beautiful hotel that is.
It is a case of deja vu – waiting for the next boot to fall or in Hertford’s case, waiting for the gates to open.
This Road Traffic Order has been affixed to the notice board at the southern end of Bull Plain for a number of weeks.
What it says is that gates will be installed at either end of Maidenhead Street and only open before 9.30am and 5.30pm to allow free movement of pedestrians. So far no gates have materialised.
The notice goes on to say that the RTO will come into force on 13th May and that traffic will only be able to access Maidenhead Street from Salisbury Square .
To underline the reversal of traffic flow there are two ‘No Entry’ signs at the western end of Maidenhead Street. However if you are driving from Mill Bridge they are not highly visible. I would have thought that extra signage before Maidenhead Street saying ‘no left turn’ would be appropriate along with a similar sign ‘no right turn’ from Parliament Square.
Last Tuesday (21 May) travelling on the 390 bus to Stevenage we were delayed by a forty foot pantechnicon travelling through Fore Street from Parliament Square. The lorry then turned left along Maidenhead Street despite the large warning sign in place to prevent such access. When we finally made Mill Bridge ourselves that lorry was blocking Maidenhead Street.
So what you might say. But it was 11.15am and traffic is apparently banned from Maidenhead Street after 9.30am.
That was bad enough but on our return at 2.30pm a delivery van turned into Maidenhead Street from the wrong end.
So, where are the gates that are meant to prevent this.
What I have yet to discover is exactly who is responsible for opening and closing these gates? And then ensuring that no-one or vehicle is locked inside. Answers on a postcard please.
Today there were two vehicles parked close to Honey Lane at 1.00pm.
I have no words left to say on the state of Bircherley Green. Why was the application not heard last night (22 May) by the Development Management Committee. Another three weeks at least (next scheduled meeting 19 June) will elapse and in the meantime time will stand still and nothing will happen in Hertford.
I could not blame Diageo, Wrenbridge, Premier Inns or Whitbread if they all walked away and left Hertford to its own devices. They won’t; but would East Herts Council really care if they did?
Son take a good look around
This is your home town.
I am tired of everybody telling me that Hertford is the county town. Maybe it is; but on what grounds? Look at this.
This is the situation facing anyone walking through Maidenhead Street towards Salisbury Square. You have to turn left and cross Bull Plain. Try looking up Bull Plain from Folly Bridge:
Traders are complaining about loss of trade, residents are completely baffled and if I were a first time visitor I doubt if I would want to return.
I know that parts (parts! all of it really) of the town needed resurfacing to make it safe for pedestrians. Those with a memory as long as mine will recall that it took a trip over cobbled stones by the then Mayor Cllr Richard Ovenden to have something done about the surface.
People are asking me why is it necessary to dig up one set of stones to replace them with another set, but of a different colour.
I answer that as far as I know it is easier to apply and receive a grant for capital projects than say for marketing or a tourist initiative. So you can get millions of pounds for new pavements but diddly squat to attract anyone into town to walk over them.
I know because I have been there. Are visitors really going to flock to Hertford just to marvel at our pavements? Fine, you can walk without tripping over but there is nothing here to spend your money on, apart from bars, nail bars and sandwich bars.
I walk through town most days and the only shops that seem to have any custom at all is Poundstretcher and the charity shops. This is a county town and this is the best we can offer!
The best laugh I had this week was this story in the incredibly shrinking Hertfordshire Mercury. It concerns the planning row over the proposed building of a Premier Inn.
I have written enough words on these pages, on this subject, to complete a small book so I will not comment further only to once again show a photo of the blank space now occupying a prime site in the county town.
Do the Officers and Members at East Herts Council sincerely believe that they know what is best for Hertford. There has been no progress on this application for years. It is likely to remain a pale imitation of a post-war NCP car park last seen in Passport To Pimlico  – DVD from Amazon – and that was a bomb site!.
There was a time when local councillors either lived or ran a business in the town that they represented. I don’t think that is true any more because what person who had a personal or financial interest in Hertford would allow this fiasco to continue, or even begin.
Have those Officers and Members actually walked around town lately. To the east of the site is Bircherley Court, painted in primary colours and looking like nothing else in town. Halfords across the road is painted black and yellow and Anytime Fitness in the same revamped Marquee Centre has its name back lit with violet neon.
Yes I know that the old Bircherley Green Shopping Centre was situated in the Hertford Conservation Area but it was built in 1981 and there was nothing of architectural or historical interest in it to preserve or enhance.
The Friends Meeting House is what those that know best say they are trying to protect. I may hold a very minority view but an old, interesting building in the middle of a sprawling modern development has an even deeper charm.
It seems to me that East Herts Council is just trying to score points by claiming that it holds the high moral ground over architectural design when in fact, by throwing out every application by Diageo, have been delaying a development that holds the key to Hertford’s future.
Anyone who has tried to maintain trade in the face of sustained road works or a major redevelopment outside your shop knows that in the long term once you have lost customers who are fed up with the disruption, they never come back. The longer the disruption the deeper the cut to income and with it the chances of retaining your customer base.
I noticed years ago that during the week Hertford town centre was only filled with the elderly, young mothers, the unemployed and the economically disenfranchised. This is not the basis for a thriving economic community. There are no shops selling normal goods and even traders who have been here a long time, and they are getting fewer, will agree with long term residents that: ‘there is nothing in Hertford to come here for’.
The Saturday charter market is shrinking, the Farmers Market is showing less affinity with local farming and the number of outlets offering food and drink is rapidly increasing.
What does Hertford offer that make people believe it should still be called the county town? There is no court, no police station open all hours if at all, no tax office and a town where even pedestrians cannot cross the road in a straight line.
There is no political opposition worth talking about, the local paper is a pale imitation of the one that I remember splashing local issues on the front page; and there are no town centre organisations fighting the town’s corner.
As T S Eliot said; ‘this is the way the world ends. Not with a bang but a whimper’.
I have been giving some thought in the last few weeks to the idea of river shopping. To be more precise, a regular ferry connecting Hertford East Rail Station, Bircherley Green Bus Station and Sainsbury’s.
The infrastructure is already in place.
Why this sudden flash of inspiration? Since the service road was blocked by concrete slabs in the New Year I have found that this offers a safe route from home on Folly Island to the eastern half of town. There is now no traffic to hit you from behind or lost cars mowing you down from the front.
One of the prime motives of the Development Plan is:
‘Delivery of significant public realm improvements including the rejuvenation of the riverfront with greatly increased accessibility and usability.‘
I recall Sainsbury’s offering a safe route from bus station to the store at the time of their own planning application. Most routes through town only offer traffic congestion, badly maintained pavements, wayward cyclists, stray dogs and chariots of fire ridden by young mums.
The three major posts can now be connected and a trip to Sainsbury’s to do the weekly shop from wherever you start being completed in peace, tranquillity and fresh air.
Let’s start at Hertford East Railway Station. Hertford Basin is just a few yards away, much improved since the building of the riverside apartments.
A ferry would then take you along the Lea and collect more shoppers who have just alighted from a bus. There is ample room for a landing stage at the exit from the car park, now closed and unused.
Going by river is so much more pleasant than the current service road.
Then under Folly Bridge and alight at Little Hartham where there is already a mooring stage. From here a short walk along a new road across the new bridge with time to watch the ducks and geese and swans that have made homes there.
All Sainbury’s need do is to extend the trolley park!
Anyone who has experienced the river knows what a relaxing place this is. Always improved by a cup of tea or a glass of chilled Sauvignon Blanc.
Customers will no longer have to drag two wheeled shopping trolleys from one place to another or carry heavy bags through crowded streets.
I haven’t presented this plan to Sainsbury’s. I will just take all the credit if it comes to pass.
This is part of the vision for the river and fits just nicely with the riverside as envisaged by Diageo, Savills, Wrenbridge, Barton Willmore, Uncle Tom Cobbley and all.
Now that the dust has settled on the planning application for Bircherley Green Shopping Centre it is time to think ahead. There are still a few permissions and details to be finalised but for many the die has already been cast.
The owners of the site have given everybody notice to quit. This was not unexpected as many leases had already been amended to include such a break clause. Everyone will have to be out by 28th April 2018.
Some traders have already quit such as Halfords, the Luxury Soap Shop, Hob and Rock Sassy and some such as Chris the gents hairdresser is shortly moving to new premises in Fore Street.
But for others the stark choice is either find new premises quickly or face closing down completely.
Whatever the outcome the Bircherley Green site will possibly be completely demolished and then rebuilt from the ground up over a period of maybe two years and more. A big hole in Hertford.
You can read in previous posts that there are more shop vacancies than normal and with building work to be a common factor in town centre life who is going to be willing to invest in a new retail venture until the dust has settled again.
There are various schemes in action such as the Hertford Town Centre Urban Design Strategy and the pedestrianisation of Maidenhead Street. However these are in the control of East Herts and/or Hertford Town Councillors. This is not necessarily a bad thing but there can be little input from those who are affected most – traders and residents who live and work in the town centre itself.
Way back in the late 1980’s the Government authorised the setting up Town Centre Management Boards across the country. They were funded by Local Government and most had an initial grant of £35,000. Not so here. Hertford, Ware and Bishops Stortford were given £10,000 each and Buntingford £5,000.
Each were established slightly differently but the basic idea was that each Board drew its membership from District and Town Councillors, Chambers of Commerce, Police Neighbourhood Teams, Residents Associations and representation from the day time and night time economies. In other words a cross section of the town that reflected each and every view on how the town should develop, or could develop.
The Hertford Board (HTCMB) used the £10,000 to run events such as Fun Days and French markets. They were very successful in attracting visitors even if most of the input was voluntary. The HTCMB folded a few years ago as East Herts decided that ‘things had not worked out as we had expected’ and the annual grant was withdrawn along with funding to all other towns.
In the last few years of existence the agreement by which the grant was awarded was linked to providing economic intelligence rather than staging events to attract visitors. There was no restriction on events but they had to be paid for by other means.
During its existence the HTCMB often fell foul of East Herts as it produced petitions and reports criticising the current parking policy in town; as well as other things it thought could be improved. This caused a conflict between the Board and the hand that fed it. Maybe it was not as effective as it might have hoped but it did try and provide an opposition to the established political establishment.
At present all 50 seats at East Herts Council are filled by 50 Tory Councillors and 15 of the 16 seats at Hertford Town Council are also Tory held. There is no Hertford Chamber of Commerce any more, the HTCMB which renamed itself the Hertford Town Partnership was wound down about six years ago. In short there is no opposition. This is not healthy in an open democracy.
I think it is time that those sections of the community mentioned above form a representative body again because the next three years is an uncertain journey and the destination is the future of those people who have most to lose.
I mentioned this in my letter of support for the Wrenbridge proposals for Bircherley Green. I do not doubt that the various political committees will move forward in a proper and in their eyes the right way but maybe this is not the way that the people most affected want or desire.
When the Hertford Town Partnership was wound up I was awarded a grant to provide East Herts with a report on five projects that could be established with the least effort and minimal funding but provide the greatest environmental impact.
I whittled down pages of varied projects, many completely of-the-wall or left field but one of my five final suggestions was to introduce the Community Toilet Scheme. This is a scheme whereby the Council pay hotels and restaurants a small monthly or annual sum in order for the public to use their toilets. There is a significant lack of public toilet facilities in Hertford but an overwhelming number of hotels, bars and restaurants.
I was pleasantly surprised this morning to find the following item on BBC News regarding a similar scheme in Bremen, Germany.
Maybe not pleasantly surprised because I had championed this in 2009. Much to my chagrin the pilot project took place in Ware and then extended to Bishops Stortford. Why not Hertford that has more watering holes than those two put together and only has one public toilet at the bus station that defies description and another in The Six Templars with an entrance by the Castle gates.
Those with long memories may recall that the development of the Six Templars was delayed whilst Wetherspoons and East Herts Council argued over who should be responsible for cleaning these toilets as they occupied space where public toilets previously existed.
This problem was overcome but there are also well appointed facilities on the first floor. If you sit awhile in Wetherspoons you will notice many a passer-by popping in and walking upstairs to avail themselves of the facilities and then exiting back into the street. No one seems to mind, the toilets are always clean and inspected frequently – so why should Wetherspoons not be rewarded by the Council for providing a safe and hygienic facility.
My other point is why given the complete disparity in the number of premises available Hertford was overlooked in favour of Ware. You can appreciate why i would like to see a form of town representation rise again.
Finally the second boot has fallen. It has been announced in black and white (well dark Waitrose battleship grey and white) that the Hertford branch of Waitrose will be closing for the final time at 4.00pm on Tuesday September 12 2017.
This will come as no surprise to many – those who have been closely following this blog for instance – or a complete shock to those who thought that this could never happen. The latter still believe that either the Partnership will change its mind at the last minute and stay; or hold to a view quite prevalent in town that Waitrose will upsticks and move a few miles up the road to the Van Hages site in Ware. Once again these points have been explained in great detail on these pages so there is no need to repeat them.
So what will the Waitrose shopper do from September 13 onwards? There are of course various options which have escaped scrutiny. There is a store quite close in Welwyn Garden City, almost next to a John Lewis. The 724 Arriva bus route runs almost every hour.
But there is no need to travel.
There is a Sainsburys store on the edge of town at Hartham. This has parking on the flat, a coffee shop, toilets and spaces for disabled and mother and child parking.
There is a Tesco slightly out of town in Mead Lane. This also has parking on the flat, a coffee counter, toilets and disabled spaces along with mother and child parking.
Not so large is Marks and Spencer which not surprisingly has parking on the flat.
You will see a pattern emerging. Waitrose have consistently stated that the Bircherley Green site before or after redevelopment does not offer them a viable alternative. The Waitrose site has been offered to all and any interested party who have to a man turned the offer down as the site does not offer parking on the flat. The man or housewife on the Clapham omnibus would rather walk to their car in the rain than take an unreliable lift.
Of course if you do have an uncontrollable wanderlust then there is an Asda and a Tesco in Ware as well as a Little Sainsburys. A little further along the A10 is Broxbourne with an Asda, Sainsburys, Iceland, Adi, Lidl and Morrisons. Almost spoilt for choice. And a Waitrose 1.6 miles away in Broxbourne.
Now all we have to wait for is the outcome of the Bircherley Green Redevelopment Planning Application which will be discussed by East Herts Council Development Management Committee on July 19th. Whatever their decision the Waitrose site in Bircherley Green will be dark for a very long time.
July 2017 – This application does not appear on the agenda for the 19th July meeting. I assume that there has been a significant amendment to the plans which would involve another period of consultation and hopefully a recommendation one way or the other to the DMC. Watch this space.