Theatre proposals welcomed

The Bengeo Neighbourhood Area Plan Steering Group have responded to the public consultation on plans for the redevelopment of Hertford Theatre.

Artists impression of redeveloped Hertford Theatre

Although Hertford Theatre is primarily within Hertford Castle Ward, a small section of it (part of the current café seating area) falls within Hertford Bengeo Ward. Based on information provided in the consultation material, the new side elevation, housing the proposed café and bar on the ground floor and Cinema 1 on the first floor, is likely to project further into the Bengeo Neighbourhood Plan Area.

We welcome the proposals to:

  • increase the connectivity between the theatre and its surroundings, particularly with the River Lea and Hertford
    Castle Gardens
  • retain as much of the existing building as is practicable
  • improve and increase the range, volume and quality of facilities for the local community and wider population
  • use (where possible) sustainable electricity
  • landscape using ‘bee friendly’ native species

Subject to plans being approved, we understand that construction is scheduled to commence in August 2021 and complete in April 2023. As Hertford Theatre is such a key community building, it’s vital that the project is delivered to schedule so that disruption to local roads is minimised and to enable Hertford’s residents and visitors to Hertford to benefit from the proposed enhanced community facilities.

We will submit a response to the full planning application

Hartham Leisure Centre Consultation

Hartham Leisure Centre is within the Bengeo Neighbourhood Area Plan (BNAP) boundary. On the 15 October 2019, the BNAP Community Steering Group submitted a response to the initial Hartham Leisure Centre planning application (3/19/1882/FUL).

On the 8th January 2020 the Development Control Committee of East Herts District Council voted to defer a decision on the planning application to enable Officers to liaise with the applicant in respect of the visual impact and the sustainability of the proposed development.

Substantially revised plans have now been published and a public consultation launched.

We welcome the proposals outlined in this consultation to:

  • integrate a ‘living wall’ on the south side of the building
  • recycle masonry from the old building within the gabions and surrounding landscape
  • aim to achieve an ‘excellent’ BREEAM sustainability accreditation

In our response to the original planning application, we expressed concern about the exterior design of the proposed extension, particularly its impact on the surrounding landscape. The inclusion of a ‘living wall’ in the revised design should go some way towards softening this impact and, as such, we consider it to be an improvement on the initial design. More, however, could be done to ensure the external appearance of the building sits well within its Green Belt setting, and alongside the proposed refurbished Hartham play area.

We look forward to the publication of the revised planning application and will submit a response to it.

Make your views known

East Herts District Council consult residents on the neighbourhood plan

The new consultation now taking place (up to the 10th of September) is a part  of the statutory process under Regulation 16 of the Neighbourhood Planning Regulations.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the consultation period will run for 8 weeks to take account of any disruption caused. All documents relating to the consultation are available online at the East Herts website:
https://www.eastherts.gov.uk/planning-building/planning-policy/neighbourhood-planning-activity-east-herts/hertford-bengeo-ward

The comment form is available directly from the link below:
https://www.eastherts.gov.uk/planning-building/planning-policy/neighbourhood-planning-activity-east-herts/neighbourhood-plan-online-comment-form

Please take this opportunity to comment on the plan if only to agree with it. It is important that people take part so that the feedback truly reflects opinion in Bengeo.

If you have any questions please do contact us directly on chair@lovebengeo.org.uk

Alternatively visit the Love Bengeo Facebook Group.

Community Consultation at Mill Mead School exceeds turnout expectations

Around 220 people visited the Bengeo Neighbourhood Plan Exhibition and Community Consultation at Mill Mead School on Saturday the 23rd of March and Sunday 24th March. This better than expected turnout reflects the deep interest in the community about the neighbourhood plan and worries about the issues that affect the community.

Steering Group Chairperson John Howson said: “It is very encouraging that so many people came along for the community consultation. It is really important that people express their views so that we can reflect these in the plan. The next stage will be the production of a draft plan, after that people will have another chance to have their say”.

Not surprisingly perhaps, the issues of transport and travel attracted the most interest. We asked all visitors to return feedback forms for comments and to let us know whether they agreed or disagreed with policies. We received 217 completed forms, these contained 756 comments of which 273 or 36% were in response to sustainable travel policies. The key issues on transport were ‘the rat run’ and parking. Visitors were generally supportive of efforts to increase walking and cycling in the area, though concerns over the busyness of roads and safe cycling spaces were expressed. It was also pointed out that cycling up and down Port Hill is off-putting for some residents.

On Natural Environment and Green Spaces we received 171 comments in all the vast majority of which were positive. This was a very pleasing outcome and shows that our Working Group has wide community support. Only a handful of comments to the suggested Local Green Space designation raised objections (generally around land being suitable for other uses).

Community and culture received 105 comments which were mainly very positive and supportive. Protecting local built assets, protected buildings, the arts hub and allotments were common themes. The water tower continues to divide opinion as most people see it as worthy of preservation while others mention it as an eyesore.

Homes and development drew 142 comments, while there were clearly differences of views on brownfield space, most comments on the suggested policies appeared to be positive. Common themes were the need for sustainable homes, adequate space and parking, the need for affordable homes and that new developments should respect the character of the area. Several people objected directly to the development at HERT4.

There were 45 comments on the theme of Business, the vast majority of which were supportive and positive.

We are revising the plan in the light of this feedback and the amended document will be available for comment later in the year.

We would like to thank everybody who took part to make this such a great success!

Links to pdfs of the display are below.

Culture & Community
Business & Enterprise
Homes & Development
Sustainable Travel & Transport
Natural Environment & Green Spaces