Proposals for the redevelopment of Bircherley Green shopping centre took a step forward today as a council planning officer recommended that the plans be approved.
The redevelopment includes 92 homes, around 3500sm of retail floorspace and an 86-bed hotel, together with 188 parking spaces for homeowners, visitors and shoppers. The area for retail floorspace is slightly less than that in the existing shopping centre.
In an 86-page report to councillors. the planning department summaries the site's history, consultee responses and planning policies.
The proposals raise a range of issues relevant to an important development located in the centre of Hertford. Given its location and a scheme having previously been approved, redevelopment of the site is acceptable in principle. The impact on the overall vitality of the town centre and the way the centre operates is an important consideration
Planning Officer's report
Some of the concerns raised included the height of the development, architectural style, inadequate parking and lack of social housing.
An independent report commissioned by the council comfirmed the developer's claim that the scheme would be unviable if social housing was included.
Discussions are ongoing regarding the provision of a GP surgery at the site.
The report concludes that on balance the proposals should be approved by cpouncillors.
It is considered that the proposed development will bring significant benefits to the site and the town centre. This scheme offers the potential for the creation of modern, flexible retail accommodation that the town lacks; a new hotel attracting significant visitor numbers to the town; new residential accommodation to meet a housing need and enliven the area and enhancements to the amenity of the riverside area. A new public space is created and in general streets and spaces around the site will be fully retained and enhanced.
The impact of the proposals on the character and appearance of the Conservation Area and nearby Listed Buildings are considered to result in less than substantial harm, however the benefits of the proposal which include the redevelopment of this vacant area of the town centre are considered to outweigh the harm identified.
Planning Officer's report
A final decision on the planning application will be made by the district council's Development Management Committee on Thursday 25th June 2020.
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