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Old River Lane, Bishop's Stortford

East Herts Council is committed to investing in the future of East Herts and is currently working on exciting plans to redevelop the Old River Lane site in Bishop's Stortford.

About the development

The first stage of the redevelopment is to build a new multi-storey car park at Northgate End to replace the Causeway car park. The plans for the multi-storey car park were approved by the Development Management Committee on 18 July 2018, so the next stage will be to start working on the detailed design of the car park. In parallel to this, the council will seek a developer to create plans for the rest of the site.

We will keep working with Herts County Council, Bishop's Stortford Town Council, Rhodes Birthplace Trust and local groups as we move to the next stage to ensure we get this right for everyone in Bishop's Stortford.

Key elements of the plans for the site will include:

  • New arts and cultural centre with a 500+ seat theatre and niche cinema, potentially the library, one stop shop for council services, hot desking workspace and café
  • Housing
  • Retail/restaurant space
  • A new public square, pedestrianised areas, and clear walkways through to Castle Park

These recommended elements have been made based on feedback from a consultation held in 2016 on the framework document that looked at future options for Bishop's Stortford Town Centre.

The consultation found that:

  • 65% of respondents felt that recommendations to improve culture and leisure were good or excellent. They also felt the town lacked a good music venue, the Rhodes Arts Complex was too far out of town and there was a lack of entertainment for teens.
  • 56% of respondents thought suggestions to develop retail were good or excellent and were keen to see a greater range of independent stores.
  • 62% of respondents rated the ideas for improved public spaces as either good or excellent and were excited by the potential for better access to Castle Park.
  • Lack of parking in the town was also highlighted as a concern.

Old River Lane Minutes

Managing the plans for the site is the Old River Lane board. Minutes from their monthly meetings can be found below:

Shaping Stortford Minutes

In addition to the Old River Lane board, there is also a board looking at the future of the whole the town, including Old River Lane. Minutes from these meetings can be found below:

Alongside this, a Park & Ride feasibility study commissioned by Shaping Stortford has now been completed and can be viewed Bishop's Stortford Park and Ride Feasibility Study [3MB]

FAQs about Old River Lane

When will this work begin?

Now that the multi-storey car park at Northgate End has been approved the next stage is to create detailed plans for the car park, find a developer to create the plans for Old River Lane, and secure further funding for an arts centre, then we can submit a planning application for the main Old River Lane site.

How long will it take to build?

We would hope to be on site with the new multi storey car park by spring 2019. Constructions works are expected to be completed in 15-18 months.

At this stage we're not able to provide specifics on the main Old River Lane site, until we have a more detailed masterplan in place, but sites of this size tend to take 2-3 years to complete.

What will happen to the Rhodes Art Complex?

We have been in discussion with Rhodes Birthplace Trust and will continue to work with them moving forward to find the best solution for the town and the Arts Complex.  Up until any potential relocation of the arts centre business, Rhodes will continue to provide the wide-ranging programme that Bishop's Stortford has come to love - as demonstrated through its loyal audiences and visitors.

What will be in the arts centre?

The proposals so far include a 500+ seat theatre and niche cinema, potentially the library, one stop shop for council services and a café.  We will spend the next few months refining the detail in partnership with the Rhodes Trust and Bishop's Stortford Town Council.

For more information please read the  Old River Lane Arts Centre Project - Heads of Terms for Partnership Agreement [84KB]  between East Herts Council, Bishop's Stortford Town Council and Rhodes Birthplace Trust.

When will the multi-storey car park open?

We would expect the multi-storey to open towards the spring 2020.

What shops will be there?

This is yet to be decided and depends largely on who the council chooses to help us develop the scheme.  We will be looking for options that complement what's already here, ensuring high quality.

What about the Causeway car park?

The proposals suggest building retail and residential property on this site and moving the existing car parking spaces to the new proposed multi-storey car park. Waitrose car park (which Waitrose operate separately) will not move. 

Can the council afford this?

The council is committed to investing in the future of Bishop's Stortford for our current and future residents and visitors, and will work with partners to secure funding for the site. The Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership has already provided a £6 million grant and a £3.6 million interest free loan.

If you've got any comments please email

Information for Developers

Information for developers can be found on our dedicated Old River Lane Procurement page


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