40-year wait for improved health care finally over

AFTER four decades of fighting for a state-of-the-art health care facility the community of Stansted Mountfitchet has finally got its wish.

Councillors voted to approve a revised application by Pelham Structures for a mixed-use development at the former Castle Lotus and TVR garage at the bottom of Lower Street after previous proposals had been rejected back in May.

The developer submitted an alternative “traditional” design and shortened the height of the building by four metres in response to the reasons for refusal of the original application that the structure was overbearing and the design was not in keeping with the street scene surrounding it.

Most members welcomed the change to the design, except for Cllr Christina Cant, who said described the previous plans as “innovative, exciting and modern”.

Concerns were raised by Stansted Mounfitchet Parish Council, opponents of the scheme and councillors on the planning committee about whether the number of car parking spaces was sufficient for complex which will include 14 residential flats, two shops and a medical centre.

But Roger Harborough, director of Public Services at UDC, allayed those fears by saying there was a commercial agreement between the district council and the developer and that it would be possible to add a ‘deck’ to make the Lower Street car park – which is owned by UDC – into a two-storey structure if it was needed.

Cllr Jan Menell said she was “absolutely amazed” people kept putting up barriers to prevent the application’s approval and added that “all the patients in Stansted would have died by the time they have a health centre”.

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Twelve councillors voted in favour of the plans, while two abstained. There were no objections.

Speaking after the meeting, parish council chairman Geoffrey Sell told the Reporter: “We still have serious concerns about car parking but I recognise that there is a need for a health centre and hope this will be built as soon as possible with a rigorous Section 106 agreement put in place to ensure the adequacy of car parking.”