Old River Lane/Northgate End - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently asked questions about the development of Old River Lane and Northgate End, Bishop's Stortford.

What is happening at Northgate End?

Northgate End, which closed on Monday 15 June 2020, will be replaced by a multi-storey car park, which will include charging points for electric vehicles. The multi-storey car park is part of a new development to enhance this part of Bishop's Stortford and bring forward a vibrant arts centre alongside an attractive public square, a mixed development of around 150 new homes, retail and commercial spaces.

How long will Northgate End be closed for?

Northgate End will be closed for around 18 months while the new car park is built.

How many car parking spaces will there be in the new multi-storey?

The 546 +27 surface spaces multi-story car park will include charging points for electric vehicles.

Where can I park while Northgate End is shut?

In anticipation of the closure of Northgate End, the Council created a new car park next to Charringtons House with 50 bays.

The Council is making available approximately 40 spaces in the Chantry area. The cost of a permit varies from £400-£600/year, depending on the location of the bay and how close it is to the town centre. Permits will be issued on a first come first served basis. For more details email parking@eastherts.gov.uk.

A full list of Council operated car parks in Bishop's Stortford can be found on  our Car Parks in Bishop's Stortford page. The train station car park is also available.

For details of the bus services in the area visit the following websites:

When will work on Old River Lane begin?

Cityheart Ltd has been appointed as the developer to work alongside East Herts Council on this project.

No date is set for the planning phase and there will be an opportunity for people to comment on the planning application. The Council will also carry out more specific consultation with relevant groups.

How long will Old River Lane take to build?

At this stage we're not able to provide specifics on the main Old River Lane site, until we have a more detailed masterplan in place, but sites of this size tend to take 2-3 years to complete.

What will happen to South Mill Arts?

We have been in discussion with Rhodes Birthplace Trust and will continue to work with them moving forward to find the best solution for the town and the Arts Complex.

What shops will be there?

This is yet to be decided and depends largely on who the council chooses to help us develop the scheme. We will be looking for options that complement what's already here, ensuring high quality.

What about the Causeway car park?

The proposals suggest building retail and residential property on this site and moving the existing car parking spaces to the new proposed multi-storey car park. Waitrose car park (which Waitrose operate separately) will not move.

What is happening to the arts centre?

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the council’s finances. The project team looked at all elements of the Old River Lane scheme, including the arts centre, to make sure it was financially viable.

Having carefully considered all options, the Old River Lane Board took a recommendation to Full Council in January 2021 that put forward proposals for an arts centre that is more financially viable and will better suit the needs of the local community over the years to come.

The recommendation was agreed and a full business case for Old River Lane will now go to Full Council in March 2021 for approval.

What does the revised proposal for the arts centre look like?

The revised scheme provides a smaller arts centre without an auditorium, c. 31 residential units and c. 2000 sq ft of ground floor commercial space. Although the arts centre doesn’t include an auditorium, the building will be iconic as the original design and it does retain a strong arts element by allowing a live arts programme to be delivered through the flexible design of cinema, foyer and outdoor space.

Isn’t this just a cinema? How can you ensure the delivery of the wider cultural programme, as promised?

No, this isn’t just a cinema – the cinema spaces will be designed flexibly to enable the delivery of a live programme of events. The foyer space will be designed to allow for a live concept programme and will also be used as gallery space and there will be a focus on using the outdoor space to deliver an outdoor programme of live events. A high end but limited F&B offer in the form of a day to night café / bar offer

What sort of live events will the new offer be able to host, without the auditorium?

It is anticipated that the live programme will consist of spoken word events, such as comedians, single person shows and small music performances, as well as live streaming of National Theatre and other events in the indoor spaces. The outdoor space will provide the opportunity for larger performance, be it music, comedy, theatre or live screening of theatre or sports events.

Did you consider any other alternatives for the use of space?

Yes, we considered a range of options with our expert partners but the proposed arts centre is the most financially viable. We wanted to keep the arts centre at the core of the project and that’s why the ability to offer a live programme will be built into all elements of the new design without the auditorium.

What opportunities will there be for local residents to comment on the proposals?

There will be plenty of opportunities for residents to comment on proposals during the SPD process.

Can the council afford this?

The council is committed to investing in the future of Bishop's Stortford for our current and future residents and visitors, and will work with partners to secure funding for the site. The scheme is supported by a £9.6 million injection Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), made up of a £6 million grant and a £3.6 million interest-free loan.

If you've got any comments please email oldriverlane@eastherts.gov.uk

An artists impression of the arts centre development for Old River Lane

Art Centre Old River Lane

An image showing an early idea of how the arts centre might look from Waytemore Square in terms of size and its relationship to public space. The appearance of the building is indicative at this stage and will change once the design is underway.