We Are Hertford & Bircherley Green

Posted on 31st October, 2019

Add your comments on the meeting and views of what should be done to improve the centre of our County Town

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Comments (3)

I live on Riverside, Folly Island, directly opposite Bircherely Green, and am lucky to live in such a wonderful part of Hertford and one which must be of the most photographed places in the town, I have concerns that the views of those who would be most impacted by the development need a 'louder voice' and the Riverside residents need support with what would be a huge and somewhat emotional change to our day to day lives and living. I understand and agree that the site does need developing for the future regeneration of Hertford, but the current plans show no respect or consideration to the heritage of Hertford or Folly Island residents.

The visuals presented by Chase Homes are a stark reminder of how their proposed design does not, in any way, respect us or the character of our homes and the surroundings. I find the imagery of the development distasteful in the extreme and when comparing the two sides of the river I don’t see how any consideration has been given to the heritage of the area by Chase Homes with the proposed overbearing buildings which are completely out of keeping with this historic area.

I met with Alan Ward from Chase Homes albeit briefly at the exhibition at The Hertford House Hotel, Alan Ward said he wanted to work with the Riverside Residents to come to a solution that worked for both parties, this has turned out not to be true as we have since arranged to meet Alan Ward twice, both times he has cancelled the meeting at very short notice with no offer of another meeting, extremely disappointing that he promised so much and has not even found the time to meet with us once.

The proposed images cause me to feel great sadness that a developer could even think such a monstrosity is viable.
Regarding Chase New Homes’ proposal we are particularly concerned about the appearance of the buildings along the river front.
Hertford grew up over many centuries around its river transportation system. This system peaked around the 15/16 Centuries and since then the town centre did not develop much further. The strong character of the small medieval dock basin and the surrounding streets and buildings should be recognised as a potentially powerful tourist attraction. It would therefore be worthwhile to try to maximise the leisure value of the river frontage on the North West part of the site while paying attention to the scale and style of the medieval centre of Hertford.
We strongly believe that "Victorian warehouse style" buildings as illustrated in their proposal would be extremely overbearing, and inappropriate since Hertford was never a big Victorian city. It would be quite possible to design the buildings along the river frontage in a style more in keeping with the late medieval.
My first impression from the exhibition held at Hertford House of the Chase Homes proposals was that they are a great improvement on what Wrenbridge proposed, but there is a danger of viewing them too favourably because 'anything is better than nothing'.

The design concept seems to be to mimic a riverside warehouse complex, on the lines of those found on the Thames. I question whether this is appropriate for Hertford. Yes, the site is next to a navigable waterway, but it is right at the end of it and I do not believe there was ever significant commercial traffic on this stretch. The result of Chase's design approach is a rather heavy-looking building, a bland facade with a horizontal emphasis and repetitive fenestration - OK in some contexts, but is it right for Hertford? The town has few large buildings and is characterised by buildings on fairly narrow plots, with subtle differences in height and width.

As with the Wrenbridge scheme, the pedestrian street leading from Railway Street to the river is straight, though Chase is an improvement in that a building more or less on the footprint of the old Waitrose wine department does project. But a curved alignment (compare the Maltings Centre in St Albans) would be much more interesting and in keeping with the rest of the town.

It is not clear whether Chase intend to have a service yard near what was Starbucks, and if so how vehicles would reach it. Wrenbridge were proposing time-controlled access via the riverbank, but this would severely constrain the design and usefulness of that area. Would early morning/late night access for lorries via the internal pedestrian street be better?

Chase have obviously not thought very deeply about the riverside: there was one drawing showing a tree with a shadow thrown by the midday sun shining from the north! Outside tables next to the building would be very gloomy - if further away they would get more light and at times maybe some sunlight.