Response to Travel Pack for Bengeo Nursery development

Developer Durkan have submitted a planning application for the discharge of the planning condition requiring a Travel Plan to be provided for the residential development on the former Bengeo Nursery site in Sacombe Road.

We have responded to the application, making the observations below.

Our full response can be found here:
X-21-0148-CND-Travel-Plan-HERT4-Former-Bengeo-Nursery.

  1. The Travel Pack information has incorrect information on the 333-bus service. The circular Hertford Bengeo 333 bus services is provided by Trustybus, not Centrebus. The link to Centrebus should be replaced with a link to the county council’s Interlink page – which provides the latest bus travel information in Hertfordshire (subject to links being current at the time the travel pack is issued to residents). The ‘Centrebus’ label, on the image of the bus, should be removed.
  2. It’s noted that the revised travel pack includes scannable QR codes for local walking and cycling routes. In the ‘Walking’ section of the pack, reference to Hertfordshire Health Walks should be included.
  3. Information on local cycle shops could be included in the pack. We recommend that Paul Basham Associates seek advice from Kirstie Feasey at Hertford Cycle Hub on this, and that they confirm that the Cycle Hub is operational at the time of going to press with the travel pack.
  4. The map in the ‘Walking’ section of the pack should include walking routes from the HERT4 site to Hertford North Station. This could include a route along The Avenue, down the ‘Molewood steps’, along Molewood Road and on to the station via Beane Road. Alternative walking routes to the station should be included, avoiding the steps.
  5. Given traffic volumes in the Neighbourhood Plan Area, the pack should make it clear that the lower Bengeo roads via Cross Road and Beane Road have ‘except for access’ restrictions, with additional, time limited, ‘no right turn ‘ restrictions from Bengeo Street onto Cross Road.
  6. The pack could include links to the Bengeo Neighbourhood Area Plan website and to the Love Bengeo Facebook page.

What is a Travel Pack?

Local authorities often make it a condition of planning approval that developers provide “travel packs” (also known as “travel plans”).

The aim of a travel pack is primarily to promote and encourage a move
toward sustainable travel by those moving into new residential developments.

Throughout the planning process, and in line with current government planning policy, measures that would aim to develop sustainable links from new developments, including extended bus service provision, improved cycling and walking links and access to travel information, are agreed to by the
developer.

With the physical infrastructure in place, the intention is that each new resident is made fully aware of the travel choices available and is given the best possible opportunity to consider more sustainable modes of travel.

Through the Residential Travel Pack, developers should aim to provide sufficient information that would allow residents to make informed travel choices, and be given the incentive to try new modes of travel either via discounted travel passes or travel vouchers.

Additionally, as a means to encouraging modal shift away from private car use, the health and economic benefits of non-car based travel should also be identified.

What does it mean to “discharge” a planning condition?

There are often conditions attached to planning permissions that need further details to be submitted and approved by the council at certain stages of the development. This process is called ‘discharge of conditions’.

Land at Carmelite Monastery

Photo of land at Carmelite Monastery

A planning application has been submitted for the construction of a new three-bedroomed  home in Ware Park Road, on land owned by the Ware Carmelite Monastery.

We have submitted the comments below on this proposal.

It’s noted that the site is within the Metropolitan Green Belt and that the proposed dwelling would be on undeveloped Green Belt land, in a different location to the existing agricultural building. Paragraph 4.79 of the Neighbourhood Plan says: “Rather than encroach on the Green Belt, or reduce the volume of green spaces, it’s preferable to re-use industrial land or disused buildings for housing, leisure, employment or enterprise”. Although the proposed dwelling would be single storey, and marginally smaller in volume and floor area than the existing agricultural building, it’s considered that its proposed location could have an unwelcome impact on the openness of the Green Belt.

The site is within an area identified in the HERC Ecological Network Mapping as “high priority for habitat creation”. Neighbourhood Plan Policy HBN3: Nature Conservation says: ‘Proposals to create new natural areas and wildlife habitats, or to enhance or expand existing provision, will be supported’. Should planning permission be granted, we would endorse the recommendations of the Preliminary Ecological Appraisal for the replanting of young native fruit trees in the adjoining orchard, supplementary planting of existing boundary hedgerows with native woody species, wildlife friendly soft landscaping, and the integration of bird and bat boxes. As a fruit tree would be removed during the proposed development of the site, we would recommend replacement as per Neighbourhood Plan Policy HBN3 which says: “Replacement of trees with native species, in suitable locations, will be encouraged where the development results in the unavoidable loss of trees on the site”.

The Two Brewers

Photo of public houseA planning application has been submitted to convert The Two Brewers public house in Port Vale in to two residential properties.

The pub is included on a list of community facilities in Appendix E of the Neighbourhood Plan. The appendix is linked to Neighbourhood Plan Policy HBC1: Enhanced Community Facilities. Criterion I of this Policy says: “Existing community facilities, as listed in Appendix E, should be retained and protected. Loss of facilities will only be acceptable where alternative provision is of a scale and standard equivalent to, or superior to, the existing facilities”.

We have submitted a planning response to the District Council setting out our view on this planning proposal.

Read our full response here

Reponse to North Road planning application

We have submitted a planning response to East Herts District Council in response to a planning application to alter access to land at 190/192 North Road.

The land falls within the boundary of the Bengeo Neighbourhood Area Plan. The Examiner’s report on the Plan was published on the 11 December 2020. Subject to final approval from East Herts District Council, the Plan will be put forward for public referendum, scheduled for the 6 May.

It’s noted that the proposed access alteration would require the regrettable removal of trees, close to the junction with North Road. It’s understood that the Scots Pine, on the access land, is dead so may need to be removed, regardless of the outcome of this application. Additional tree removal, associated with this planning application, would have a negative visual impact on the tree-line along that section of North Road and could set an unfortunate precedent for further tree removal in this Green Belt location.

Criterion III in Neighbourhood Plan Policy HBN3: Nature Conservation says: ‘where development results in the unavoidable loss of trees, replacement of trees, in suitable locations, will be encouraged’.

Response to 11 Port Hill plans

Photo of 11 Port Hill, Hertford

A planning application has been submitted for 11 Port Hill.

The proposal is described as: “Removal of detached garage. Proposed single storey side extension. New 1.8 metre high boundary wall with timber gate. New 1 metre – 2 metre high wall to replace fence. Widening of vehicle crossover and creation of one additional off street car parking space.

We have submitted a response to the consultation for this application. We have no particular concerns about the proposals, other than the loss of trees. The electric car charging point is welcomed.

Read our full response here

Proposals for 13 Port Hill

A planning application has been submitted for a site behind 13 Port Vale.

The proposal is described as: “Demolition of existing structures; change of use to residential (C3); erection of two one bedroom dwellings and one three bedroom dwelling; and creation of 4 parking spaces“.

Photo of access to Austin's funeralcare depot behind 13 Port Vale

We have a number of concerns about this planning application, which are detailed in our response to the District Council. These include a lack of detail in the application documents, siting of bins, parking and site layout.

Red our full response here

Response to Sacombe Road planning variance

We have submitted a response to an application to vary the approved plan for the construction of 8 homes in Sacombe Road.

The proposal is: “Variation of conditions 2 (approved plans), 9 (Landscaping), 10 (Fencing and hedges) and 12 (external materials) of planning permission: 3/18/0572/FUL (Construction of 8 sustainable homes on land previously used as storage depot and associated vehicle / machinery workshops) – Provision of gables, bay windows and timber framed porches. Internal layouts amended.”

The response of the Bengeo Area Neighbourhood Plan is:

  1. The land above is within the Bengeo Neighbourhood Plan Area. The draft Plan is currently at the  Examination stage. 
  2. On the 6 October 2020, a response to application 3/20/1809/NMA was submitted to  East Herts District Council by the Neighbourhood Plan Chair. 
  3. The applicant’s request for a variation to Conditions 2, 9,10 and 12 of planning permission  3/18/0572/FUL is noted and we await the planning department’s decision. 

Response to Revised Tree Nursery Plans

Photo of tree nursery
Tree Heritage nursery in North Road

Revised plans for the tree nursery in North Road were recently submitted to East Herts District Council.

It is noted that this application has revised the volume of dwellings down from 6 to 5, and that they are now all single storey. It’s also noted that the cumulative volume, and the gross external floor area, is marginally less than that of the existing commercial buildings, though two of the proposed buildings would be closer to  North Road than the existing buildings.

Despite the reduced ridge height of the proposed dwellings to the rear of the site, the negative impact on the  openness of the Green Belt, particularly when viewed from Waterford Marsh, remains a significant concern.

The Neighbourhood Plan supports the appropriate development of Brownfield land over encroachment on the Green Belt. Residential development on this site, particularly given its proximity to Waterford Marsh,  described in Hertfordshire County Council’s ‘Local Character Assessment’ as ‘one of the best examples of wetlands in Central Hertfordshire’, would set an unwelcome precedent of such encroachment.

Response to office conversion plans in St.Andrew Street

Photo of 46-48 St.Andrew Street

A planning application has been submitted to convert offices at 46-48 St.Andrew Street to residential flats.

The property falls within the Bengeo Neighbourhood Area Plan boundary. The Regulation 16 consultation on the draft Plan closed on the 10 September and the Plan is currently at the Examination stage.

It’s understood that the commercial space within this building has been vacant for some time. Whilst the loss of commercial space is regrettable, it isn’t beneficial for buildings within the Plan Area to remain unoccupied for lengthy periods, therefore, it’s preferable for the building to be converted for residential use.

The submitted plans suggest that studio space (possibly a legacy from when the building was occupied as an art gallery?) is being retained. If this is the case, we would encourage its use as a community space.

The submitted plans indicate that there are 6 parking spaces to the rear of the building. It’s unclear whether designated vehicle parking spaces will be allocated to residents of the flats. It’s important that no additional on-road parking burden is placed on local roads. It’s strongly recommended as per criterion I c) of Neighbourhood Plan Policy HBH3: Landscape Design, that sufficient, secure, covered, cycle parking is provided for occupants of the flats, to encourage active travel.