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?

We’ve opened a new multi-storey at Northgate End in June 2022. 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 Causeway and Charringtons car parks be closed for?

We’ve opened the new Northgate End multi-storey to consolidate parking and free up pivotal space in the heart of the town centre for redevelopment. This means Causeway and Charringtons are permanently closed ahead of redevelopment as part of the wider Old River Lane revitalisation.

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, however there will be ample opportunity for people to comment on the planning application. 

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 Waitrose car park?

Waitrose car park (which Waitrose operate separately) will not move. We are looking at potentially changing its shape by reconfiguring some parking spaces, but they would stay in the same area, outside the front of the store, so that Waitrose customers can continue to use the car park as they do now.

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.

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.

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

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?

We consulted the public in summer 2021 to seek views on arts centre proposals. There will also be plenty of opportunities for residents to comment during the SPD process and as the planning application is developed

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


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.