Bishops Stortford is about to change – who’s on board?
11th February 2013
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Bishop's Stortford Chamber of Commerce has its say about recent and future developments that are set to change out town...

Two items have entered the news recently and it is time to face up to the fact that Bishop's Stortford is about to change, again, like it or not.

Whether or not we agree, regarding the EHDC’s decision to ‘rubber stamp’ the Henderson scheme, the town centre will no longer resemble a quaint ‘Market Town’ as the construction will ensure that part of the town centre is 21st century in look and feel against a backdrop of traditional and historic construction.

The Chamber of Commerce is a supporter of any development which increases employment opportunity but will always be concerned when, the implementation of such a project has an irreversible effect on the current situation. To further prolong debate and discussion on the Henderson scheme, we await the Civic Federation’s proposed judicial review and confirmation that due process has indeed been followed. In the short term the Secretary of State’s review and the proposed judicial review has had a beneficial effect on preventing, what will potentially be a catastrophic impact on the town’s retail trading during the construction period. All of this during possibly the worst retail trading period in recent memory serves as a sober reminder that change is tenuous in nature and arguments for and against in such an environment can be easily supported.

The other item in town is the Bishop's Stortford North Consortium’s ASR development put forward for outline planning approval, again, provision of employment opportunity is welcome and inclusion of amenities to serve the proposed local population necessary. Cause for concern is the increase in both population (approx. 25%) and potential traffic around the site which the Consortium deemed to have mitigated by their, own admission and design which is yet to be proven in reality. The proposed development has been presented and adjusted several times by the Consortium and incorporates many of the local resident’s concerns however there will always be resistance when faced with change and especially when looking out the window at a landscape which will be forever different.  

The Chamber of Commerce supports change and development always but not to the detriment of current working conditions and lifestyle. Bishop's Stortford is a town steeped in history and tradition around a thriving high street and associated retail activity. The UK high street is changing rapidly and those who are not ready to acknowledge the changes will be left behind, Bishops Stortford is no exception. Unfortunately the most recent change is the very sad impending loss of Tissiman’s one of the longest serving retail stores not only in Bishops Stortford but the entire UK. The advent of internet based retail activity and the changing attitude to male fashion has ultimately led to Tissiman’s demise. 

Armed with this knowledge and the recent significant changes on the high street, such as the loss of Pearson’s, Boardman’s and Clement Joscelyne to name a few, it is up to the local residents and interest groups like the Bishops Stortford Chamber of Commerce to ensure that Bishop's Stortford remains a preferred place to work and live.

My thoughts 

As the owner of thebestof Bishop’s Stortford, I support the need for change in the town but would also like to stress that 'we get the town we deserve'. My business promotes all things local we want people to 'Buy Local', we mean it. We want the Bishop’s Stortford high street to be entertaining and vibrant, easy to use, a cost –effective and a pleasurable visiting experience. 

There is a belief that the golden goose that is Bishop’s Stortford will continue to give yet we continue to see good brands, historic brands and even modern brands such as Sisley and Sony vacate the town. If we don’t look to develop and positively change our town then we will see further decline. Infrastructure changes will help but attitudinal change is also needed. 

The challenge remains; how to encourage more people into the town? Footfall must be earned and that is a combination of many elements, more flexible parking, better aesthetics, greater value, increased diversity and vibrancy and not least fun.

Local people make a difference, locals can influence change and drive fresh initiatives to shape the future direction. Our focus must be to involve more local people to keep it local.

Ian McCulloch

About the Author

Ian M

Member since: 10th July 2012

I've been running The Best of Bishop's Stortford since 2010 and I'm passionate about supporting all things local. In particular, we work hard to showcase the best local businesses who give the area it's...

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