For many years the Bishop’s Stortford & District Footpaths Association (BSDFA) has been liaising with planners and developers to improve pedestrian safety on Wickham Hall Drive (BS Bridleway 008). This once relatively quiet private road, linking the Hadham Road to Wickham Hall, has significantly changed with the development of Bishop’s Stortford North (BSN) and the ongoing expansion of the Wickham Hall Business Centre. The section to the north of the A120 underpass has benefited from a segregated walkway and speed humps installed by David Harvey, the owner of Wickham Hall. This has ensured that pedestrians are now segregated from traffic. To the south of the underpass, within the boundary of the Bishop’s Stortford North (BSN) development, no such segregation exists and pedestrians are required to share space with domestic and commercial traffic heading to the Business Centre. The bridleway is a popular route for the new residents of BSN wanting to access the extensive rights of way network to the north of Stortford and those wishing to visit the Rosey Lea tea rooms.
The BSDFA has responded to several Planning Applications for both BSN and Wickham Hall asking that improvements to the southern section of Wickham Hall Drive (WHD) is made a ‘condition’ of any approval. On each occasion the issue has been ducked although we made a breakthrough when Highways put forward such a ‘condition’ in relation to the development of the new primary school which is currently being constructed adjacent to WHD.
Herts CC Highways noted the following in their submission to the Planning Application:
“An existing Public Right of Way (PRoW) is located immediately to the west of the site. It is a designated Bridleway (008). The County’s ‘Countryside and Rights of Way’ team has been consulted on this matter. The submitted TS states “PRoW (in the form of a bridleway, would enable a pedestrian connection between the development and A1250 Hadham Road to the south to be provided.” There is also no footway on the southern section of Wickham Hall Drive, adjacent to the western boundary of the proposed school site. As part of the existing Bridleway, it is essential to complete such connections prior to school opening to provide a safe and sustainable access for parents and children. To cover this issue, a condition has been recommended accordingly.”
“As you say, the condition proposed by Hertfordshire Highways would have required the construction of a new pedestrian footway connection (to form part of the existing Bridleway No. 008 in two sections:
(i) between the development and A1250 Hadham Road to the south
(ii) southern section of WHD, adjacent to the western boundary of the proposed school site.
Having considered all representations it was decided not to make this a conditional requirement for the construction of the new primary school for the following reasons:
It would not be reasonably related to the development being proposed;
no assessment had been undertaken of the safety of pedestrians crossing (the A1250) in this location; and
no provision had been made for a footpath/crossing in this location as part of the planning permissions for the wider BSN development
In the circumstances it was decided that the construction of a new footway in this location would not meet the tests of a planning condition, i.e. reasonable/necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms, and therefore the condition was not imposed upon the planning permission for construction of the new primary school.”
Given Herts CC’s commitment to encouraging sustainable travel by foot and bike over car travel it is frustrating that when given the opportunity to deliver on this the developers and both councils (HCC and EHDC) continue to duck the issue.
The matter has been raised with our local County Councillors – Alaistar Ward-Booth and Graham McAndrew. Councillor Ward-Booth has confirmed that he would be happy to support our calls for improved pedestrian access on the south side of the bypass and will raise the matter with HCC Highways at a meeting next week. We will keep you posted.
Dave Webber – BSDFA