Save Our Stort campaigner speaks to Harlow Council

General / Tue 13th Jul 2021 at 10:31am

SAVE our Stort campaigner Neil Warner-Banks attended a meeting of the Conservative cabinet of Harlow Council to ask a number of questions regarding plans for a highway across the Stort.

Below is the question asked and the response from Cllr Hardware.

There was a further question asked. Film of which is below.


Mr Warner-Banks asked:

I am a resident and stakeholder of the land where the proposed Stort Crossing, Pye Corner to Edinburgh Way is going to take place. On 11/6/21 I showed you and my ward Cllr, Matthew Saggers some of the many concerns I have regarding the proposed river crossing. Among my concerns, I showed you the poor state of the existing surface water storm drain system where it enters the River Stort at Riverway and the associated stench. I recall that you took photographic evidence.

I also showed you the serious flood damage in the form of up rooted trees and the under boring to the historic Latton Mill, which has all occurred since the recent widening of Edinburgh Way and other building schemes to the east of the town. All of this poses a risk to the existing flood defences that were installed at great expense to Harlow Council circa 2002/3. This is when the nearby weir was compromised by flooding and caused a partial collapse of the footpath south of the River Stort backwater and a threat to Mead Park industrial estate.

Recently, you gave a statement on behalf of the leadership of the council to Yourharlow.com stating that you would raise my objections with the relevant authorities and stakeholders. However, many Cllrs, including those with relevant portfolios, as well as our MP have indicated that they will refer all my questions and concerns to you.

I am concerned that the relevant authorities such as the Highway Authority, might not have been contacted. It is essential to investigate whether these schemes have caused an increase of surface water discharging into the River Stort. This will seriously affect the planning decision of The Central and Eastern proposed River Stort Crossing.

Please could you show me that you have consulted in full with the council and update me on progress in relation to my concerns?

Reply from Councillor Michael Hardware (Portfolio Holder for Strategic Growth):

The Gilston development, and its associated transport infrastructure, has been the subject of significant debate and consultation over many years, and a project we have inherited from the previous Labour administration. The development is enshrined in the East Hertfordshire Local Plan, which was adopted in 2018 following public consultation and an independent examination which found the Plan to be sound. Equally, the principle of the river crossings to support the development at Gilston is also enshrined in the Harlow Local Development Plan which was also consulted upon and was adopted in December 2020 by the previous administration also following independent examination by a planning inspector.

Harlow Council is supportive of the development of new housing to the north of Harlow at Gilston as being vital to meet the future needs of the town and the surrounding area. It is vital to ensure that appropriate levels of infrastructure are provided to support this development and traffic modelling has demonstrated that the Eastern Stort Crossing is required to enable this.

Equally, we have to balance the increasing need for new housing with impacts on the environment. Climate change and global warming is a major issue facing humanity and we need to minimise the impact upon it. Conversely, there has been a housing shortage in the UK for many years. It is one of the reasons why house prices are so high and why it is difficult for many, in particular the younger generations, to get on the housing ladder.

It is a very difficult balance to find.

In answer to Mr Warner-Baker’s question I can confirm that the Highway Authorities and the Lead Local Flood Authorities have been engaged and provided comments on the application for the Eastern Stort Crossing.

The proposal includes a series of new drainage infrastructure which will deal with surface water arising from the new road.

Note that the bridge is elevated at the River Way location over existing features. Surface water runoff from the new highway will be stored beneath the highway surface and systems designed to accommodate flows that may arise from a one-in- 30-year storm event.

Towards River Way, where the urban area is more constrained, the new roundabout surface water will be attenuated and treated via conveyance and a separator to remove fine pollutants, particles and oils before discharge into the River Stort.

All drainage infrastructure must meet the same level of surface water run off as a greenfield (undeveloped) site. The assessments indicate that there will be no impact on surface water flooding arising from the development.

In terms of preventing flood risk and integrating sustainable drainage through design, the Eastern Stort Crossing proposal meets the requirements of the Environment Agency and the lead local flood authorities. The Drainage Strategy has been agreed in principle at this stage and subsequent engineering design stages will refine details about the proposed attenuation features, which will be controlled by a series of conditions attached to any planning approval. The highways authority has also confirmed to me that approval of these final details will be required before the Section 278 road adoption process can be completed. I am therefore satisfied that there is sufficient engagement from the relevant authorities in relation to this proposal.

Stakeholders for the River Stort Crossing, which have and will continue to be engaged as the Gilston development progresses include:

Natural England
The Environment Agency
The Highways Agency
Lead Local Flood Authorities
Highways Authorities
Ecology Departments
Archaeology Departments
Minerals and Waste Authorities (at both County Councils) Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust
Essex Wildlife Trust
The Canal and River Trust
Network Rail
Greater Anglia
National Aerodrome Safeguarding Team at Stansted Airport

Connectivity via the Stort crossings is integral to our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attract the transformative investment and growth that Harlow needs in order to fulfil our significant potential.

Sir Frederick Gibberd described Harlow as “an organism which would go on changing and being rebuilt as the needs of the people altered” and the Garden Town and associated infrastructure is the beginning of that new chapter.

There is no evidence to link the river flooding with the expansion of Edinburgh Way. These may be nothing more than coincidence – there are a number of drainage channels and potential sources of increased flow into the River Stort over the last few years when there have also been, and probably the actual cause of, a number of very high rainfall incidences.

The river catchment for the Stort is huge, and most of the Stort navigation comprises hard reinforced bank edges as it functions as a navigable waterway.

There are few parts of the river where the banks are not reinforced and therefore vulnerable to erosion. The Latton Island section is one such location where banks are not reinforced in all locations as the river splits in two to provide a relief flow of water around the lock.

Harlow Council is aware of the erosion damage at the weir mentioned by Mr Warner- Baker. I can confirm that the Council’s Environment team is currently in discussion with

the Environment Agency and the Canal and Rivers Trust to agree a programme of repairs to this part of the river bank.

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11 Comments for Save Our Stort campaigner speaks to Harlow Council:

Andrew Bray
2021-07-13 11:50:07

Current roads such as A414 across the flood plain should be enanced o to take the extra traffic. Yere are plans to improve this roaf anyway.Building a parallel road under a mile away is lazy and hardly sonething Sir Frederick would have done.

2021-07-13 13:12:33

More smoke and mirrors from the Conservatives. The simple fact is, this is not about what Frederick Gibberd described. The developments around Harlow are not in Harlow and indeed some are not even in Essex. The future of Harlow's Green Belt is being decided in the Civic Offices in Epping and Hertford and at best Harlow Council can only influence what is happening there. The residents of Harlow have not been consulted about the changes happening outside of the towns borders by these other council, the law does not require them to. Housing crisis in the past have never been solved by the private sector, developers do not build loads of houses so that supply outstrips demand leading in reduced house prices. As with "Harlow North" they will be dribbled out a few hundred each year to keep prices inflated and there will not be a single Council home. All the while the developers make millions of pounds profit. It is clear that this is a done deal, even more traffic thundering in and through Harlow. This is what happens when you vote Tory or Labour ......... or in the most part most people don't vote at all.

Danny Gleeson
2021-07-13 17:43:18

Why is their a shortage of housing Mr Hardware and who's policies lead to that shortage? Our environment isn't their to solve a problem caused and exacerbated by successive Conservative governments.

2021-07-13 18:07:41

Agreed. Smoke and Mirrors Mr. Hardware. With the existing River crossing improved, why not finish dualling Edinburgh way, leaving no need for the destruction of this beautiful part of Harlow’s borders. I believe Sir Frederick would be turning in his grave at any suggestion that he would approve this plan. The Gilston project is in Hertfordshire, therefore let them bear the brunt of new roads.. Residents will find their way into Harlow if they so desire, without our country side being even more desecrated, and any suggestion that Harlow will lose out without this road is patent rubbish. We have a weak local and county council when dealing with Hertfordshire. It’s about time our elected representatives started working for their constituents rather than backing off from any confrontation.

2021-07-13 18:11:30

Agreed. Smoke and Mirrors Mr. Hardware. With the existing River crossing improved, why not finish dualling Edinburgh way, leaving no need for the destruction of this beautiful part of Harlow’s borders. I believe Sir Frederick would be turning in his grave at any suggestion that he would approve this plan. The Gilston project is in Hertfordshire, therefore let them bear the brunt of new roads.. Residents will find their way into Harlow if they so desire, and any suggestion that Harlow will lose out without this road is patent rubbish. We have a weak local and county council when dealing with Hertfordshire. It’s about time our elected representatives started working for their constituents rather than backing off from any confrontation.

2021-07-13 19:15:33

These plans may be part of plans put forward but today 13 07 2021 the Environment Agency informed me that have not located any permissions have been granted, comments and consultations are not the same as permissions. Current recommendations SEPA are a 1 in 200 year flood event not 1 in 30 year. The Canal Boat Trust have also refuted that plans have been resolved and permissions have been given, likewise the Stort Catchment Committee and their partners the Mddx Wildlife Trust have not confirmed that the approvals that Cllr Hardware implies have been given. Flooding is not the only issue but silt deposition and the creation of drier and wetter division of the flood plain. Other incidents occurring more frequent recently as have happened will continue to happen and the new scheme should take this into account. Cllrs have not addressed the question of the related and potentially highly damaging ecological impact related to the building of the structure and the associated main sewer installation planned to go down the valley bottom some 4 to 5 miles to the Rye Mead treatment works

2021-07-13 19:46:26

continued: no assessments of added flood risks up and down stream have been given and as far as can be established residents upstream to Bishops' Stortford, where flooding is an more frequent event and downstream to Rye Meads and Hoddesdon. these areas are very likely to be affected and if the residents have not been fully informed then consultations have been inadequate, as they have been here in Harlow. GOV. UK gives a picture of the current flood risks, it is extensive. https://flood-map-for-planning.service.gov.uk/confirm-location?easting=546251&northing=212154&placeOrPostcode=CM20%202GL both the Gilson Estate plans and those wrt the crossings need reappraisal especially in the light of the Climate Change Report June 2021. There are good alternatives to the Pye Corner to Edinburgh Way crossing, less costly, environmentally friendly and that will support the ecology of the Valley. I would urge Cllrs to wake up and realise East Herts and the developers have sold them a pig in a poke

Julie Taylor
2021-07-13 21:19:12

Cllr Hardware stated there is engagement from Essex Wildlife Trust. This is either completely untrue or the application is incomplete as there are no documents whatsoever in the application from Essex Wildlife Trust. Make of that what you will

Cllr Michael Hardware
2021-07-14 16:18:31

We have inherited this project from the previous administration. It was embedded in the local plan they adopted in December 2020 and is all linked to the Harlow & Gilston Garden Town and the £172million grant which will be received from the Government to pay for the infrastructure ahead of development of Gilston Villages. As this is a live planning application and Harlow Council is one of the determining planning authorities, it is difficult to say much about the application.

2021-07-14 21:40:03

Its about time we really should be calling this Gilston Garden Town. It is not Harlow, not even Essex. It will be of no benefit to those of us who already live here, what benefits will this bring to someone who say lives in Brockles Mead, Perry Spring or Ram Gorse? This land is Harlow's Green Belt and decisions about it's future should lie in the hands of Councillors in Harlow's Civic Centre. Politicians are now holding their hands up in mock surprise. Had the residents of Harlow been consulted about these plans years ago, these plans could have been stopped in their tracks.

Tony Durcan
2021-07-15 08:44:24

Clearly the spin Doctors are working overtime by the local Tory party with the MP asking for this to go back to the drawing board when he well knows it’s the government demanding house building. Now the local Tories are blaming Labour when they know none of these decision are owned purely by Harlow. Feels like the spin Doctor is going in both directions at the same time. We need to stop the blame game and get into meaning discussion. We all want the best for Harlow. Let not re write history just to support an excuse. This is poor leadership at the critical time of needing strong and effective leadership.

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