Cabinet to push ahead with first steps of Harlow town centre regeneration
News / Thu 14th Oct 2021 at 08:25am
CABINET to push ahead with first steps of town centre regeneration by agreeing planning guidance for future developments.
A blueprint which will help to guide the regeneration of Harlow Town Centre is set to be discussed by Harlow Council’s Cabinet tomorrow night (14 October 2021).
Cabinet are being asked to approve the draft Town Centre masterplan planning document for consultation. The document will provide a strong planning framework for the town centre and control and shape how the town centre is regenerated by guiding planning applications that come forward to the council.
Councillor Dan Swords, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, said: “We are taking the action necessary to get on with the job of rebuilding our town centre and this is the first significant step to doing so. This document will provide the planning powers needed to guide us towards the first stages of that rebuilding.
“As I have made clear many times, we are going to deliver a once in a generation programme of regeneration to transform our town centres into one of the best hubs for shopping, leisure and entertainment in the country and this document kicks off the journey to doing just that by ensuring only the right development takes place.”
Councillor Michael Hardware, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Strategic Growth, which includes planning, said: “We need a masterplan which both encourages the right investment into our town centre, but also controls what development takes place, so that we can deliver our plan to completely regenerate the town centre.”
The document is one of a number of important steps the council is taking to provide the building blocks for its plans for the regeneration and renewal of Harlow.
If agreed tomorrow, the town centre masterplan planning document will go out to public consultation before it is adopted and used to determine planning applications.
Aiming high from the conservative cabinet, what’s not to like. onwards and upwards 🚀
Sir The Masterplan was not put to the electorate and the Council cannot claim a mandate. The report infers that poor transport links between the town centre and the railway are responsible for the failure of the town centre as a shopping centre. This is clearly not the case . The plan is fundamentally flawed. The failure is due to factors that politicians and Cllrs have Canute like denied for years and wasted millions of pounds trying to "breathe life" into town centres and high streets whilst stamping on the corpse. Firstly: town centre/ high street shopping focuses and concentrates traffic causing congestion, this make shopping an unpleasant experience especially as towns have been forced to grow beyond their natural or designed population and capacity. People voted with their feet and that's why large edge of town shopping Malls with spacious parking and comfortable mainly indoor vast shopping spaces become popular. As populations grew more Malls grew around the perimeter of towns. Being around the perimeter, the advantage is that traffic from within the town dilutes and that from out of town doesn't penetrate or travel through making the journeys of residents and visitors that much easier. It's a pattern that has inexorably gone on because it works, it's a pattern that planners and government don't understand. The only reason the Council mistakenly thinks the North South Transport corridor is a solution is because it's thought those living on the new Gilston hggt estates will shop in Harlow, little chance, their Neighbourhood Plan for hggt makes it extremely clear that the target population expected to buy property there is of a much more elevated socioeconomic group, they and the current residents want nothing to do with Harlow, and that the development will definitely want to avoid the "urbanised" character of Harlow. They will be more likely to shop online, in Stortford or Hertford and at Bluewater. Meanwhile, when Harlow had major shops in the town centre and the population was smaller local people would shop here, but when the town market closed and property developers effectively sat on sites and rather than adapting them just did nothing except to wait for the price of land to rise then little happened. It's a great idea to develop the town centre as an arts, culture and entertainment centre but the idea of creating tall buildings and flats is one that's crazy. It's forcing people to live in confined environments with no gardens simply to maximize profits for developers and landlords: it's totally against the spirit and the concepts that created Harlow in the first place. Little wonder when our Council is associated with property developers and consultants that boast of converting green belt land into building sites. Additionally high rise rabbit hutch buildings create high winds, it's the laws of physics, especially so when they are sited on high locations: like the town centre! Not a pleasant environment. The few tall office buildings in the town generated the nickname "The Windy City " years ago, taking down the old, tall and rather ugly Town Hall improved matters but already the development at Wych Elm near the hospital looks out of place, imposing and once clad in plastic or some other unsightly and unsuitable materials will be a truly regrettable development in years to come. Sir Fred will be spinning at a time when his ideas about town development are more relevant than ever. Harlow Council has learnt nothing nor taken the trouble to find out by looking at other developments in the uk and Europe about what's wrong with overloading the town and concentrating traffic, congestion and homes in the centre. The Council under successive administrations of red and blue have shown they couldn't even sustain a thriving market in the Town Square and with hggt pfp are selling out to property developers, giving any benefits to East Herts and imposing all the pollution, traffic, congestion problems on Harlow. Add to that Harlow Council seems content to sit back and allow the tranquil environment of our Stort Valley to be destroyed by the building of a raised road barrier culverted crossing to enable the residents from 10000 Hggt homes to, as Naisha Polaine Director of Hggt, describes it, pop in their cars and drive down to the tube, ie across this Eastern Crossing through Harlow to Epping: 11 miles. Time to think again.
Novoman hits many nails on the head with his comments, both Conservatives and Labour have very similar ideas about the future of Harlow's Town Centre: No plan or indeed space for a larger theatre, no exhibition centre, no live music venue and a huge reduction in the number of parking spaces with the removal of the 'Post Office' car park. The Council have a £100 million pot of money but their vision for the town centre comprises mostly of high rise flat blocks, which most local youngsters will never be able to afford to buy. The new flat block at Wych Elm gives an idea of the future, nothing that will attract more visitors either to shop or use leisure facilities. Property developers are already sitting on plots within the town centre, such as the former Square site, Market House and even the Strawberry Star site along Broadwalk, it could be decades before the Town centre sees any meaningful regeneration and then all it will be really is a town centre housing estate.
Let Market Square be just that. Resurrect the market back to how it was back in the 80s and 90s.
It may be in the small print but I have seen nothing that links the future of Harlow Town centre with the future of the hospital. I would be surprised if the hospital doesn't drive footfall into the town centre, if the hospital goes to the M11 then that footfall dries up. Of course, if it does go then many NHS and related workers may also move home to be nearer the new hospital, conversely new houses will presumably be built on the existing hospital site so adding to the footfall perhaps although for different purposes perhaps. Surely any investment in the town centre has to wait until the hospital decision has been made. Whatever the hospital outcome I believe we have to recognise that the needs for a town centre are no longer the same as as it was when Sir Fred designed the town. Notwithstanding my hospital comments I would knock down much of the northern section, fire station and bus station included to create a much smaller tc based on the Harvey Centre and water gardens. I would also move the town hall-why should offices occupy prime retail/restaurant space in our modern world
You make some good points Peter. Some 3500 people work at the hospital many hundreds of them living close by and together with hundreds of thousands of visitors each year they all go to help drive footfall in the town centre. Their loss will never be compensated by the building of some 3000 homes in the area. The town centre needs to adapt, out of town retail centres and home shopping have changed centres like Harlow for ever. It needs to concentrate on leisure activities, adding to those already there, by building a cultural centre to include a much larger theatre. Knocking down Market House should begin the process of opening out the northern approach to the town centre.
Re hospital development: I think I read that the new replacement hospital will have fewer beds and a lower capacity with a farm on the roof and a blocked overloaded Gilden Way. No that would be crazy, a hallucination perhaps, especially with plans afoot to increase the population by building thousands of news homes. So mad that surely no sensible Council, district or county or government could contemplate it. Oh, there's thousands of doctors less, (so no point in having a bigger hospital or retaining the one we have with three or four extra floors then) and no cars because there's no fuel (so no danger of gridlocked roads), a pandemic with thousands infected and the danger of a new variant creating lockdown, so no one will be going anywhere.... that explains it then. What great politicians we have to manage things so well.