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Sumners residents anger if Harlow doubles in size

Politics / Wed 30th Apr 2014 at 09:12am

Letter to the Editor:

Sir,

I would like to take this opportunity to respond to your recent article in relation to Harlow Council’s consultation on the upcoming Harlow Plan in which a representative of the council stated that “no future housing is not an option”.

On behalf of Sumners Residents Association, I have contacted Harlow Planning Department to seek details in relation to the upcoming plan. Feedback from the officer I spoke to stated that Harlow is looking to build between 8860 and 15000 dwellings in the next 17 years. If one adds the fact that East Herts has withdrawn their opposition to the Harlow North/Gilston Park development, approximately two miles from the Harlow boundary, which entails a revised downward amount of 10000 houses, and Harlow Labour Party’s revised position on the development of land to the south of Harlow; ie West Sumners and Priors Farm developments, a further 4000 properties (all of the above listed developments can be seen online). If one adds these proposals together, there is the spectre of an additional 29000 extra dwellings within or on the immediate borders of Harlow. Harlow’s present population is approximately 80000 persons, if we extrapolate that two persons will live in each of the 29000 dwellings that will add 58000 people to the population of Harlow over the next 17 years.

Whilst I understand the gentleman’s position about ‘no further housing in the town not being an option’, is he honestly stating that a more than 50% rise in the population of Harlow and its immediate area is a sustainable option? We, at present, have a rush hour in the evening that lasts three hours. Try to find an appointment with your local GP. Just how long are the waiting lists at Princess Alexandra Hospital? Are we seriously saying that adding 50% population to the already to the already overstretched infrastructure is a feasible option?

Before you build a house, build a ward. Before you build a house, widen a road. Before you put 50% additional population in and around Harlow, put the infrastructure in place before, rather than after you create utter chaos.

Robert Gray
Chair
Sumners Residents Association

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5 Comments for Sumners residents anger if Harlow doubles in size:

Jon
2014-04-30 10:56:10

There seems to be a misunderstanding about what is being consulted on. Firstly the number of between 12,000 and 15,000 houses required (based on an objective assessment of all the relevant factors), is not what Harlow is 'looking to build'. Indeed even if if wanted to, there is no room in Harlow for that number of Houses. This number is the number required in the Harlow area - and INCLUDES those that East Herts, and Epping Forrest Councils may build, and is not in addition to. For example if there were to be 10,000 houses built in Harlow North, that would go along way to meeting the target numbers. Incidentally there is an implication in this that Harlow Labour Party is explicitly in favour of development in Sumners West and Latton Priory - which I appreciate is propagated by some for political advantage. Apart from the fact that Harlow Council is not the planning authority, the whole point of the consultation (and the examples in that are just that some examples, not proposals but some possible scenarios by which the overall housing need could be met), is to get local residents views, and these will be taken into account (and further rounds of consultation conducted) before the Local plan is adopted. For what it is worth, I am not in favour of Sumners West, and for a variety of reasons, including infrastructure, internal congestions, and integration with Harlow, would prefer Harlow North - but there is a long way to go in the consultation process. Jon Clempner

AndrewJ
2014-05-01 09:17:31

Jon Come on - there is more than an implication in this that Harlow Labour Party is explicitly in favour of development in Sumners West - it is fact. Harlow Council previously had a stated objection to growth to the south and west of Harlow, but in March 2013 when Conservative Councillors Nick Churchill and Linda Pailing brought a motion to full council to: "recognise the huge concerns many residents have about the proposed Sumners West development, particularly on issues of infrastructure and lack of capacity on Southern Way, Water Lane, Broadley Road and the B181 Epping Road. In support of the above this Council resolves that it: 1. Is against growth to the southern and western boundaries of the town, preferring any growth to be to the north and east of Harlow. 2. Makes any representations necessary to communicate that it does not support any development of Sumners West or any other developments to the south or west of Harlow. 3. Will not sell or lease any land or rights of way which it possesses that may assist in the development of Sumners West or any other developments to the south or west of Harlow.” Guess what - Labour voted it down......

Jon
2014-05-02 12:42:50

If you are not aware yourself, then I am sure colleagues on the Local Plan Panel will tell you, there is an obligation to consider all options, to leave no stone unturned, and to widely consult - a failure to do so will result in the Local plan not being accepted and a developer led planning free-for-all will ensure. As for 'there is more than an implication in this that Harlow Labour Party is explicitly in favour of development in Sumners West' - this is simply untrue. While clearly there is a desire to make political capital out of this, I am more concerned with making sure there is genuine consultation, and that we get a Local plan that is right for Harlow - a view that I thought was shared by colleagues of all political persuasions on the Local Plan Panel.

Sumners RA
2014-05-05 18:29:07

Dear Sir When my wife told me there had been replies to my article in regard to increased house building within Harlow, I was encouraged that the article had engendered some intelligent debate on a serious subject. It is with some dismay the person’s correspondending to this letter seemed to want to make political points rather than discuss a serious issue, what a shame. To answer some of the points in the replies: when I stated that Harlow Labour Party had changed its position it was no implication on my part but is a fact that Harlow Labour Party has moved from a position of being actively against any developments on the south/west borders of Harlow, to one of a neutral position. It was also stated that I was incorrect in the amount of houses proposed for the future. In reply I would just ask these questions: Priors Farm and West Sumners together will be 5000 properties; East Herts, Gilston Park development will be 10000 properties, are we seriously suggesting that there will no house built in Harlow? Please, if you take the time to reply to a serious article, have the courtesy to do your research. As these developments are built on non Harlow land, these 15000 properties will take not one name of the waiting list, whilst adding 30000 (2 persons per house) to the already, aforementioned, overloaded infrastructure, and if the correspondent continues to suggest that 15000 is the sum total of dwellings in the area, perhaps he should speak to the planning department before using his keyboard. Robert Gray, Chair, Sumners Residents Association.

Beverly Le Long
2014-05-05 19:08:57

The whole question of West Sumners since its inception has been shrouded in what appears to be hidden agendas, mostly political and economic. The developers, from the outset, seemed to understand so little about Harlow. At an early consultation there seemed genuine astonishment from them that any new residents would probably travel down the B181 to commute from Epping because the tube is so much cheaper than the overground from Harlow. This makes the whole project unsustainable from the start, even without considerations of health facilities, education, road use, amenities.... not to mention the loss of greenbelt, habitats and discrete village communities. Yet the spectre of planning gain and the spurious promises of regenerating Sumners Hatch always hovered in the background and left us fearful that housing was only one item on the council agenda. By all means consult, but Harlow council must be aware that the response might, as with electoral participation, be minimal. We assume in the democratic process that there is little we can do to influence decisions mace at the 'top' and this is not helped when some of those decisions are taken behind closed doors with no public access. We have always said in Sumners that we want local housing in appropriately sized units. We have offered to work closely with the council on how to regenerate the Hatch without harming the green belt or adding to chaos in the Southern Way corridor. I know I speak for many of us when I renew that offer and ask that Harlow council bears that in mind during and after the consultation phase. Harlow is a great town with wonderful communities, but to increase its size beyond what is sustainable will damage it irreparably. Sincerely, Beverly

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