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Multi-million funding for key Stortford project

A 'once in a lifetime' opportunity to revitalise Bishop Stortford's town centre and deliver a new leisure quarter for the town has moved one step closer thanks to a £9.6m injection of funding from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The decision to award a £6m grant and £3.6m interest-free loan to East Herts Council for the Old River Lane site was taken at Hertfordshire LEP Board Meeting on Thursday 21 June.

The Old River Lane site sits right on the edge of the town centre and currently largely serves as a surface car park. In its successful bid for funding, the council set out its bold ambitions for the site, which acts as a 'lynchpin' for further development. These include a vibrant new pedestrianised leisure quarter comprising restaurants, bars and cafes; a key focal arts and public sector hub; a new public square and green spaces. Managed workspaces will also provide much needed hot-desking facilities for start-ups and SMEs.

Thrilled 

Council leader Linda Haysey said: "I am thrilled that business leaders from across the county have recognised the importance of the opportunity to revitalise the Old River Lane site.  A £9.6m injection of funding is great news for Bishop's Stortford." 

Hertfordshire LEP Head of Infrastructure Adam Woods said: "The decision to award this funding was based on the strength of East Herts future-facing bid and the pivotal role this site plays in the overall regeneration of this market town. For too long this town has underperformed despite its excellent location and strategic links with London and Cambridge. Now we have a once in a lifetime opportunity here to reverse that trend and ensure that its growing population have somewhere vibrant and dynamic to live, work and play."

The LEP funds will support a key phase of East Herts Council's Old River Lane project - the Northgate End phase. It will allow the council to progress on the site with new homes and ground-floor work space, and represents an important step towards the council's forward-looking vision for the site and the town centre.

High quality homes 

In its bid the council explained that the town's infrastructure has not kept up with its growth. The council is determined to change this position through the project which includes:

·         186 high quality homes

·         A small number of high quality retailers

·         An iconic arts and entertainment centre

·         A multi-storey car park

·         A new public square

·         Green spaces and improved links to Castle Gardens, which is also benefitting from a £2.36m Heritage Lottery Fund rejuvenation.

In its application submission to the LEP, the council explained that the town is set to see rapid population growth which, coupled with previous under-investment in arts and culture, creates the risk that it becomes a commuter-belt dormitory, lacking a vibrant town centre and with a struggling transport network and a fading sense of place and community.

The Old River Lane site project is part of a package of measures by East Herts Council to reverse this trend by revitalising the town centre and boosting the local spend economy. These include £20m towards a new leisure centre and a Heritage Lottery Fund supported £2.36m rejuvenation of the historic town centre park and gardens.  In addition to the 186 high quality homes planned for the Old River Lane site, a further 4,262 homes are planned (between now and 2028) within a 15-minute walk of this area.

 

June 25 2018