Excavator machines started work this week on the new Northgate End multi-storey car park in Bishop’s Stortford, kickstarting the next phase of East Herts Council’s Old River Lane regeneration scheme.

This phase comprises a new six-level multi-storey car park providing 546 spaces, surface-level parking for 27 vehicles, and a four-storey mixed use building with commercial space at ground level, with 15 residential flats above.

The work is expected to take 18 months, and has begun at a particularly welcome time, helping to provide jobs and stimulate the local economy.

The multi-storey car park, which includes charging points for electric vehicles, is part of the wider Old River Lane development that will bring a vibrant arts centre to Bishop’s Stortford, alongside an attractive public square and a mixed development of around 150 new homes, retail and commercial spaces.

Among the many exciting features in the arts centre will be a 544-seater theatre with a state-of-the-art staging system, a four-screen cinema and art displays.

The scheme is supported by a £9.6m Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), made up of a £6m grant and £3.6m interest-free loan.

Council Leader Linda Haysey said: “The arrival of excavators marks a key moment in the Old River Lane regeneration project. It signals our commitment to ensuring that Bishop’s Stortford achieves its full potential as a place that people want to visit, live and work in. Despite the difficult times we’ve been through in recent months, the council’s ambition and enthusiasm for this town is undiminished.”

Tina Barnard, Chair of Hertfordshire LEP’s Strategic Infrastructure Board, said: “The start of work at Northgate End marks an exciting step forward for the regeneration of Old River Lane. The new multi-storey car park will enable land previously used for surface level parking to be freed up for a vibrant new arts and leisure quarter and much-needed housing and commercial space that will support new jobs, add value to the town centre and benefit local people and businesses for years to come.”

Mark Mitchener, Managing Director at Rydon Construction, said: “We are delighted that East Herts Council has awarded Rydon Construction this project to deliver the design and construction of a new multi storey car park, commercial space and residential units.As well as the economic benefits to the local area that should come about as a result of this scheme, the project team is engaging with the Environment Agency to create a wet woodland area next to the site for everyone’s enjoyment.”

Tina Barnard (Chair, Hertfordshire LEP Strategic Infrastructure Board), Cllr Linda Haysey and Adam Wood (Head of Infrastructure & Regeneration, Hertfordshire LEP) joined representatives from East Herts Council and Rydon Construction to mark the start of work at Northgate End.