Revitalising The Town Centre
The Hertford Urban Design Strategy was adopted in February 2016 to inform development management decisions and to improve the environment in the town centre.
The first stage of implementing the plan involved creating a more pedestrian friendly environment for residents, shoppers and businesses in Maidenhead Street. Improvements include pedestrianising the street during daytime, resurfacing the area in more appropriate materials, redirecting the flow of traffic and carrying out associated improvements to the parts of The Wash and Bull Plain at the top and bottom of the street.
The pedestianisation of Maidenhead Street and Bull Plain was completed in April 2019, although installlaion of the gates is outstanding.
The project was launched in 2016 to develop an Urban Design Strategy for Hertford's town centre.
The strategy forms part of the District Plan that determines the planning policies and development of East Hertfordshire. The Strategy guides future development of the town centre and planning decisions involving applications for any redevelopment. It provides a long-term coherent vision for the town centre’s design, management and maintenance.
There are number of issues that the project looked at, including:
- A successful redevelopment scheme for Bircherley Green
- Retail policy and the need to address general concerns about the vitality of shopping areas
- Deterioration of public realm quality and maintenance
- The need to detail ideas for anticipated change of public spaces such as:
- Maidenhead Street
- Bull Plain
- Old Cross
- The Wash and Mill Bridge
- The Riverside
- Fore Street
- The Marquee
- Warren Place
- Hertford East Station
- A longer term design vision of town centre
- An economically viable strategy to deliver the best planning solutions for the town centre
- Need to ensure a working town centre accessible for businesses and desirable to visitors and users as they move around
Consultants worked with property, retail, transport and landscape architectural specialists to develop the strategy.
The project was led by East Herts District Council, working together with both the town and county councils. Key elements of the study were to consider the future of major sites, the design and management of the street scene and transport issues for the town centre.
Engagement With Retailers
At the beginning of March 2015 retailers took part in a questionnaire as part of the first stage of the study being conducted by Tibbalds, a leading planning and urban design consultancy.
Councillors, Community Groups & Stakeholders
Two workshops for elected members and local community groups and stakeholders were held on Friday 13th March 2015. This allowed the project team to obtain some general guidance surrounding the key issues that face the town centre.
An exhibition tool place in The Millbridge Rooms and Hertford Theatre in September 2015, where the public was able to find out more information and ask questions.
The project was led by a steering group made up of Councillors Peter Ruffles, Suzanne Rutland-Barsby and Andrew Stevenson.
Suzanne Rutland-Barsby, East Herts Council's Executive member for community and partnership liaison said: "This is an exciting opportunity to look at ways to revitalise the town centre, to help shops and businesses to thrive and to ensure that it remains a popular destination for visitors."
Terry Douris, Hertfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Highways, said: "We are delighted to be working together on this initiative to consider ways to enhance the vibrancy of the town centre and its accessibility for all users."
Katja Stille, associate director of Tibbalds said: "Hertford town centre has an advantage right from the start because of its historic environment, riverside and attractions such as the castle. The strategy our team puts forward will respond to and respect these and other features of the town and ensure that future development does not lose sight of Hertford's character while still enabling well-planned investment and improvements to take place in the short, medium and long term."
Urban design, masterplanning and planning specialist Tibbalds led the multidisciplinary team, working with Aspinall Verdi, Dally Henderson Landscape Architects, JMP and the Retail Group.
Bircherley Green Shopping Centre is a privately owned development in the town centre.
In August 2014 a public consultation was conducted on redevelopment of the centre, resulting in significant changes to the plans.
In 2017 planning permission was granted for the redevelopment of Bircherley Green.
This article was last updated on Tuesday 28th May 2019