Over four weeks in July and August, everyone who lives, works or spends time in Bishop’s Stortford was invited to say what they thought about the plans and how they would use the cinema and performance spaces proposed.
Over 500 people took the time to respond online and in person. The main findings showed support from younger age groups, particularly those under 30, but lower levels of support from older people who said they would be less likely to visit and make use of the new facilities:
• 88% of all 16-18 year olds and 84% of 19-30 year olds agreed that they would visit the main cinema. Lowest support was in the 61+ age group where 11% of people agreed or strongly agreed they would do so. The result across all age groups was 47%.
• 51% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed they would visit the smaller cinema, again rising to 88% of all 16-18 year olds and 80% of 19-30 year olds. This compares to just 17% of respondents aged 61+.
• 57% of all respondents agreed they would visit the main screen for a staged event. This was highest amongst the 19-30 age group (75% agreed or strongly agreed) and 31-45 age groups (72%) and lowest in the 61+ age groups (28%).
• The most popular staged event was comedy / stand up shows, followed by music and drama performances.
• 67% of all respondents would attend an event in the outdoor performance space and 72% liked the proposals for the space. All age groups demonstrated strong support for the space.
The project team is now working to progress designs for the arts centre and hopes to share these for further feedback before the end of the year. The process to develop a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to guide development for the whole site starts this month, led by an independent chair.
Meanwhile, construction on the Northgate End multi-storey, which unlocks space for wider regeneration, continues. Scheduled to open in May 2022, the new car park will provide 564 parking spaces to serve the town and its businesses and, crucially, release land for the delivery of new homes, shops and leisure.
Councillor Eric Buckmaster, executive member for wellbeing at EHDC said, ”The regeneration of Old River Lane will breathe new life into Bishop’s Stortford town centre, creating a vibrant, attractive space for our communities to enjoy for generations to come. That is why it is so encouraging to see such strong support from younger people in the town.
“I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to share their views. Your feedback will be listened to and reflected in our proposals as designs develop.”
More information, including the full consultation results, can be found on the council’s website