Local planning

Bishop’s Stortford and the surrounding area is currently undergoing large and rapid expansion. There are great opportunities for building new homes which aim for zero carbon and for having more public transport. We are committed to highlighting the need to aim high in development planning. Much more needs to be done and opportunities are being missed.

We are campaigning for East Herts council to adopt higher energy efficiency and carbon emission standards for new developments, and developed a Draft Supplementary Planning Document showing the targets that East Herts could adopt. Following this, the council developed their Sustainability Supplementary Planning Document and adopted this in March 2021.

East Herts District Plan 2018

Gilston Garden Town

The outline planning for Harlow and Gilston Garden Town 3/19/1045/OUT was approved by East Herts on 28th February 2023. There are some good aspects, houses with heat pumps rather than gas, and mostly with PV installed but it is far from being net-zero. As with many schemes, the developers showed how carbon emissions are much lower than an alternative ‘baseline’ option, obscuring the fact that the emissions are still very high. In this particular case, the ‘baseline’ scenario continues the use of gas boilers beyond 2025 and so is not even a plausible alternative. In addition, the PV systems proposed are still very small, mostly around 1 kW, so it’s yet another missed opportunity to reduce emissions.

The developers themselves highlighted figures from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, showing how much carbon budget remains for East Herts up to 2050 and how this development will add to emissions, rather than reduce them. We we have no spare carbon budget for infrastructure projects that aren’t net-zero.

We also pointed out the flaws in the carbon calculations shown by the developer. The environmental statement notes that there is 1,353 TCO2 sequestered annually, while omitting to say that this is in place of 2,076 TCO2 sequestered by the existings habitats. This existing sequestration is dismissed on the basis that it is offset by 2,653 TCO2 from the existing agriculture that would no longer take place on the site. However, an equivalent production would then need to occur somewhere else so these emissions are off-sited rather than avoided. 

Goods Yard Scheme

In response to the developer’s proposals for the Bishop’s Stortford Goods Yard scheme, Chris Dunham, Carbon Descent, recommended that the design should include a heat network distributing energy from a ground source heat pump.

This showed the potential benefits of connecting all the buildings to a site-wide heat network, replacing a gas-fired combined heat and power generator with a much larger central heat pump that would source its heat either from boreholes or from the River Stort, The heat network could have included the Nuffield Leisure Centre and the Cinema. The developer’s proposals have since been approved but do not incorporate the heat network.

Bishop’s Stortford South

We objected to Countryside’s Proposals for Bishop’s Stortford South, 3/18/2253/OUT, on the grounds that they are not net zero carbon and did not comply with EHDC’s District Plan or the town’s Neighbourhood Plan in relation to climate and sustainability related issues.

Bishop’s Stortford North

The Bishop’s Stortford North development, under outline application 3/13/0804/OP, is now being built.

Planning permission has been approved for a care home at St Michael’s Hurst that will use low-carbon energy from ground-source heat pumps