Who owns the land?
Chase New Homes. East Herts Council does not own any of the land or the car park or toilets.
What is the background?
The council granted planning consent to Wrenbridge for the re-development of Bircherley Green in January 2018 under planning reference number 3/17/0392/FUL. It followed a development management committee meeting in October 2017 which approved the application.
The consent was for a mixed-use redevelopment, including partial demolition of existing buildings, to provide up to 4,694 sqm retail floorspace (Use Classes A1 to A5), an 86-bed hotel (Use Class C1), 70 flats (Use Class C3), refurbishment of the car park to provide 188 spaces - 143 pay and display spaces, 40 residential spaces for the flats and five for a car club - improvements to the bus station, new public spaces and landscaping to the riverside, and associated works and improvements.
The planning permissions can be described as having two phases - phase 1 for the hotel and phase 2 for the shops, flats and other works.
Once planning permission was granted in January 2018, the Diageo Pension Fund/Wrenbridge could have gone ahead and developed the project. However, in November 2018, they chose to submit a new planning application which altered the mix of development. This new application was due to be considered by the council's development management committee (DMC) on 19th June 2019 and had been recommended for approval. However, the owners withdrew the application on 10th June 2019.
Council staff had been working closely with Wrenbridge on this planning application in order to be able to recommend the application for approval to the committee.
Prior to this application, Wrenbridge submitted a number of non-material amendments to the existing planning consent relating to phase 1, the hotel. However, the council did not consider the changes to be non-material given the extent of the changes and advised that a S73 application should be submitted.
The Diageo Pension Fund put the site up for sale and it was bought by Chase New Homes.
What are the new owners planning to do?
Chase New Homes has submitted a planning application (3/19/2614/FUL) for the redevelopment of the site. and consultation on this took place in February 2020.
Following this consultation, amendments to the application have been received and the Council is now consulting on them. Comments are due by 12 June 2020.
- Reduction in number of residential units from 100 to 98.
- Reduction in the amount of commercial floorspace at ground floor level from 3,479.40m2 to 3,419m2.
- Changes in uses for the commercial element, applicant removed the D2 and B1 uses from the proposal.
- Addition of roof terrace to Block A.
- Alterations to elevations with additional detailing to add interest to the building - (includes faux warehouse doors, bridge details, hoist).
- Changes to the subdivision of commercial units at ground floor level.
- Solar panels shown on roofs of buildings.
Amendments can be viewed here
When will the Council make a decision on the planning Application?
Subject to consultation on the amendments, the planning applications will be considered by the Council's Development Management Committee in Summer 2020.
Why did the council allow the closure of shops?
As Bircherley Green is privately owned, the council has no authority to require the shops to remain open. The council believed that previous owners (before Chase purchased the site) had closed the shops in order to start the re-development of the site.
When will the toilets re-open?
The toilets are being retained as part of the proposals submitted by Chase New Homes.