Katherines residents angry at huge warehouses that are “blighting their lives”

News / Wed 4th Aug 2021 at 06:31am

RESIDENTS in the Katherines area have slammed Harlow Council for granting planning permission for huge warehouses that now loom over their homes and are making their lives a misery.

In 2017, general planning permission was granted for warehouse developments in the former GSK site on Elizabeth Way.

The development is called Icon Industrial, a strategic joint venture by leading commercial property developer, Stoford and private global investment firm, TPG Real Estate.

Since then there has been a number of specific planning applications for parts of the site.

In January 2021, an application for a warehouse next to the Bynghams area of Katherines was granted.

The planning committee, consisting of six Labour councillors and four Conservative councillors voted unanimously to support the application.

But in the application, diagrams seem to show a very large warehouse, 15 metres high, dominating the skyline.

All but one of the councillors appear oblivious to the possible consequences of such a large warehouse overlooking the houses. The chair of the committee, (then councillor ) Phil Waite asks a question in relation to “five houses in the south east corner”.

However, the rest ask a series of questions regarding landscaping, sound, trees, car parks. In fact, everything but “How high is that building and what impact will that have on residents?”

It has only been in the last few months, that residents have seen the huge warehouse getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

One resident told YH. “It was only after we came back from holiday in May. We drove into the cul-de-sac and the basic framework of the warehouse could be seen.

“Since then, the work has been making our life a misery.”

Another resident told YH: “We can’t sit out in our garden anymore. There is the physical impact of the warehouses but also noise, environmental factors to name just two.’

A trawl though the planning documentation seems to show that the applicants, have done everything by the book.

Planning notices, consultation meetings, details of each application submitted to Harlow Council and representation at the council meetings.

Invitations for responses to application were sent out to 187 residences, They received just six responses.

This is just the introductory part of the story. The Katherines residents have asked for a meeting with the Harlow Council Portfolio Holder for Strategic Growth, councillor Michael Hardware.

This could be a case of being more vigilant regarding those planning notices pinned on lamp posts or study those plans on-line or in the post.

At the same time, shouldn’t most residents expect more representation from their local ward councillors and/or the members of a planning committee.

These people are paid thousands upon thousands in allowances on top of their day to day jobs.

We will follow the residents campaign and report back.

The film of the planning application for the warehouse referred to is below. It starts at the 1hr 13 mins

Statement from Harlow Council

The Council recognises the concerns raised by a number of residents living near the Icon building site in west Harlow where two new commercial units are being constructed, one to be occupied by Amazon. All complaints the council receives regarding developments are investigated and, if any planning breaches are found, appropriate enforcement action is taken.

Councillor Michael Hardware, portfolio holder for strategic growth which includes planning, said: “An enforcement notice was issued on the developers in June for a breach of conditions relating to hours of operation at the construction site. I asked officers to look into this and to monitor the site. I fully understand the concerns raised by residents. The council is listening and will do all it can to address residents’ concerns within the parameters set out under planning law. The council takes all complaints and possible planning breaches seriously. Several councillors, including myself, have visited the site in recent weeks and we are actively engaging with the developers to mitigate the impact on local residents, but clearly there can be no complacency about the impact this development has had to date.”

Planning permission for the redevelopment, located on the former GSK south site, was granted by the council’s Development Management Committee on 3 October 2017. 

The applicant sought to construct two of the four approved buildings, which became the subject of a further planning application in January of this year. These “reserved” matters, which were approved by the Development Management Committee on the 13 January 2021, related to details on internal access, appearance, landscaping, layout and the scale of the two proposed buildings. 

The minutes of these meetings and supporting documents can be found on the council’s website at:

Development Management Committee on 3rd October 2017: https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=141&MId=902&V

Supporting documents: https://planningonline.harlow.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDe

Development Management Committee on 13 January 2021: https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=141&MId=1248&

Councillor Michael Hardware, continued: “Our planning team has fully investigated a number of complaints from residents in relation to the construction of these buildings. The Planning Team has so far issued one enforcement notice for a breach of conditions relating to hours of operation. Planning Officers stipulated that no construction work shall be carried out on the site at any time on Sundays or public holidays, or before 7am or after 7pm on Monday to Friday, or before 8am or after 1 pm on Saturdays. We are satisfied that these hours of operation are now being complied with, but future checks will take place. I am continuing to monitor the situation and will investigate any further complaints with planning officers to maintain an appropriate level of scrutiny.” 

“Other complaints received include:

*    Consultation – it has been found that both planning applications have been correctly consulted on in line with statutory requirements: a press notice printed in the Harlow Guardian, site notices were posted outside the property on Third Avenue and letters sent to all residents around the site in question – further than the minimum range to ensure as many residents as possible were consulted. All this was conducted in line with statutory requirements and the council’s Statement of Community Involvement. This was in addition to the consultation undertaken by the developers itself ahead of the applications. The council is currently reviewing the way it engages with the community on a range of matters and is looking at what additional steps can be taken to allow residents to have more of a say.
*    Response – of the 188 letters we sent out in 2017, there were only six responses of which four were objections. The 187 letters sent out for the 2021 application prompted just one objection, and no one spoke against the application at the committee.
*    Approved plans – the development has been built in accordance with approved plans – this matter has been investigated and no breach has been found.
*    Noise and light – noise disturbance and light spillage from the site are both currently under further investigation.”

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11 Comments for Katherines residents angry at huge warehouses that are “blighting their lives”:

Sue Kadwill
2021-08-04 07:12:23

We certainly did not receive any communication in Silvesters. We went to the initial meeting at the church where the plans were for small warehouse units . It seems to have slipped through under the radar. The two big units snd car park over power Bynghams, Silvesters snd the church. Where is the representation from our MP snd our local councillors on our behalf?

Russell Foxwell
2021-08-04 07:51:16

We are in Church End and have the Amazon multistorey car park looming up in the skyline and is all we can see from front room window from a our bed room window we can hear the workmen chatting , so god knows what it will be like when its fully operational, they have large flood lights on the roof which when switched on light our bedrooms up. As we are the nearest street to the cut through to the back enterance if this site 500 people working there and only I think 180 car parking spaces where do you think they will be parking their cars when going to work there? We dont have enough spaces for the residence in the street at the moment so it will be unbearable when operational.

2021-08-04 12:29:29

I feel for the residents of this area but lets be honest the planning application was well publicised as i wrote about the extra hgv traffic it would create passing through the town and suggested a weight limit for certain roads, But it appears all the public notices were advertised and letters sent to residents but only 7 replies received so is it the old im alright jack attitude or just general apathy which seems to pervade this town. Unless we all fight this various schemes they will be railroaded through so lets now watch the blame game start with the same old faces blaming each other.

2021-08-04 13:12:35

The planning process is entirely inadequate as is the consultation process. This is yet another example, look at Gilden Way, the Garden Villages and J7a. People have busy lives and expect their elected Councillors, Councils and MP all professionals to have their backs. It's the system and Cllrs from all parties can't cope. Clearly these elected people have failed to even apply common sense and failed, in doing so they badly let down the residents of Katherine's who do have the natural human and legal rights to the quiet enjoyment of their homes and the projection of their environment.

Neil B
2021-08-04 16:10:22

I agree with Ed, our Councillors are supposed to be our ....um "Council" which id define as those chosen to Represent, Protect, and serve the community which elected them. They have a duty first and foremost to scrutinise on our behalf, not corporate bodies, business of Govt policy. I sincerely believe that that is the honest intention of all or most of our Councillors...but I also believe that they sometimes forget... Something for our cllrs on the Planning Committee to dwell on...... .....If in doubt...chuck it out....

Daniel Long
2021-08-04 17:50:42

How does the person who sent this article know that those Conservative councillors put their hands up in favour of the development and not against the development or they might of abstained. Plus being a fovour councillor myself, i agree with councillor Carter. The former Labour administration party did Have more councillors in council compared to the Conservatives up until May this year so they always over ruled when it comes to votes. My vote was the deciding vote on the new Harlow Rugby club and I'm proud of that. Not unless you have been in the council chamber, representing the people of Harlow as a councillor, you don't realise or understand how intense or pressuring it really is and the the worst political party for putting pressure and making you feel uncomfortable for not opposing on the or their ideas are the left parties, such the Labour party and councillors. Well done to the Conservatives for knocking the Labour party off their perch in May.

Richard S
2021-08-04 19:16:27

Living in Church End I am overlooked by the multi story car park on the Amazon building. Even though the council say they sent out planning noices neither I or my neighbours received them, this is why they got no reponses. The notice was placed by the site entrance where very few people would see it rather than on the boundary fence near the affected properties, it was also posted in a newspaper many people were not aware existed. I would have thought it would have been prudent for councillors to have visited the affected areas rather than look at plans. At the initial presentation at the church we were assured by Icon Industrial there would be no increase in height or the foot print of original buildings. Councillors should be working for the residents regardless of their political persuasion, if I am right I do not think any current councillor lives within the affected areas.

Nicholas Taylor
2021-08-04 20:06:25

If you take a look at the film of the meeting Dan you will see there were no objections or abstainers to the proposal. It was said during the meeting that the building would be 15 metres high, I would have thought that any Councillor visiting the housing estate before the decision was made should have had concerns at that time. Where were the Conservative Ward Councillors then? Just putting up their hands up now in mock horror, blaming the Labour Party.

2021-08-04 20:11:20

Daniel Conservatives are in power now and can stop things, Katherine's are a symbol of a broken planning system, other examples like Purford.Green exist. There's issues where the Conservatives voted against they aren't acting to change, it shows that perhaps the vote wasn't genuine. For example the 2020 Development plan,they voted against and Robert Halfon MP has identified the plan as a Labour mistake that includes the Pye Corner to Edinburgh Way bridge barrier crossing. A crossing that will permanently damage the ecology and environmental of the Stort Valley: a crossing that isn't needed, of which there are lower cost and more environmentally friendly options , yet remarkably the Conservative group have done absolutely nothing except, knowing how damaging this will be, they are content to blame Labour and sit back whilst developers cash in. Hggt could be done better, "Built back better" to improve the environment, to prevent wildlife being damaged, to remove pollution like phosphates and detergents. Systems could be upgraded, to prevent raw sewage flowing into the river and flash flooding as continues to happen. But following the lead of the Conservative government are content to see protections removed from endangered species like voles and otters, rights of communities to hold Councils and developers to account removed and from the continuing pollution of the river aquifers by pharmaceutical products that have already seen male fish turned to female and human male fertility ( sperm counts) in reduced by half. 2012 figure London). To paraphrase "Quite frankly my dear, 'they' don't give a dam" if they did or do let's see some action. Blame whoever you like , get a judicial review to enable a change to the development plan, schedule housing at Katherine's, compulsorily purchase and throw out the warehouses.

2021-08-05 07:53:50

Quick, close the gate, the horses have bolted!

Pauras Kolah
2021-10-17 15:02:59

There i s something VERY WRONG about Harlow Council, that CANNOT BE 'HONESTLY' DISPUTED! We have been bullied (in my view) by Harlow Council for over 11 years. Your Harlow very kindly have recently done a follow-up video that can be seen at: https://www.yourharlow.com/2021/10/11/katherines-resident-continues-his-battle-with-harlow-council-over-tree-roots/ KEEP VISITING THE YOUR HARLOW LINK - I WILL SOON BE PROVIDING AN UPDATE WHERE WE CAN LINK TOGETHER! Councillors have even contributed to the bullying, ensured that false records about me and the case stay false! You will see from the Your Harlow video that Mr Brian Keane, when he was Harlow Council Head of Governance, sent me a letter that stated Harlow Council considered my complaint to be "vexatious" and "without substance" when my complaints were supported by: 1. The Law on Trees - ie legal duty of care & Robbins case [2012 & 2013] 2. Structural Engineer Report (2011) 3. Arborist (Tree Expert) Report (2012) 4. Loss adjuster letter and Laboratory Report (2013) - Soon afterwards became members of the "Zurich Subsidence Team" - insurers for Harlow Council 5.Solicitors admitted "subsidence damage" to our property in WRITING dated 31 October 2014 6. BBC Rip Off Britain scans of Harlow Council land proving the roots are large, deep and growing towards our property 7. Evidence of Harlow Council lies, forged letter and falsification of records, etc So much evidence YOU CANNOT MISS IT! Cllr David Carter advised in February 2016 by email: ""I will try once more But please do not count on anything" So the records MUST stay false about me and this case since 2010!!! Why??? This has been done in front of Mr Robert Halfon MP as well as EVERY Leader of the Council since 2010, and ALL councillors have been kept in formed. HTS Director, Cllr John Strachan visited with me in 2018 and told me that their arborist/tree expert visited the area and the trees causing damage to our property would be removed. THEY WERE NOT WITH NO REPLY TO EMAILS AND NO EXPLANATION OR APOLOGY! Yes in my view there is no question that we have a highly fraudulent and dishonest Harlow Council - and the problem is a combination: 1. Harlow Council officers 2. Broken local political system 3. Suppliers of Harlow Council 4. Abuse of Harlow taxpayer's money We need to take back control of Harlow - THIS IS OUR HARLOW COUNCIL THAT NEEDS TO BE PROTECTED! Please visit the video on the Your Harlow website. We MUST stick together as a Harlow Community and use the opportunity given by Your Harlow to link together to protect each other!!! By the way, Your Harlow has asked Harlow Council to respond to our video, and STILL refused to do so. I think that this continued wall of silence against us and in place for many years, says it all!!! We WILL win if we fight together for our Community and speak with ONE VOICE!

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