New plans for town centre could see twenty storey high tower blocks

General / Mon 13th Dec 2021 at 04:42pm

RESIDENTIAL tower blocks of more than twenty storeys could be built in an Harlow town centre, as documents reveal scaled down plans for redevelopment reports the Local Democracy Reporting Scheme.

According to planning documents, a revised scheme for land north of the Harvey Centre now consists of up to 678 flats across three blocks with a maximum height of 24 storeys.

An environmental impact assessment screening report by Temple Group Ltd for the amended mix-use development was validated by the council on December 7th.

It is a long way from going in front of a planning committee but it gives a sense of what could be built.

A section reads: “To reflect feedback from the Council, the current revised Proposed Development has decreased the massing, height, density, number of units and car parking spaces substantially from the March 2021 application.”

This previous application proposed up to 900 units in buildings ranging between six to 27 storeys.

A scheme for the demolition and “comprehensive redevelopment” of the Harvey Centre was first contested in August 2018.

The report continues to say the current proposals consist of 678 residential units across three blocks.

A fourth block, which according to the report was granted full permission in 2020, would bring the total number of units to 841.

The proposals would also include up to 3,000 square meters of commercial development and up to 34 car parking spaces.

Harlow Council is currently consulting the public on its town centre masterplan, which contains guidance for tall buildings.

Once approved, a final version of this will become a material planning consideration, which means all planning applications will have to take its guidance into account.

However, despite not yet being fully adopted, it can still be used by officers in considering applications and determining recommendations.

The current draft describes building heights of between 14 to 16 storeys as “ambitious”, and says these might be appropriate for the town centre “subject to exemplary design”.

New tall buildings would also have to adhere to certain criteria, for example being partially obscured by lower foreground buildings, or spaced out to avoid clustering.

A section reads: “New tall buildings will be expected to improve and enhance the character and appearance of the local area, by providing an aesthetically‐pleasing design and creating a landmark building. 

“It should also however celebrate the unique design heritage of Harlow and consider design cues from the immediate area and Harlow more generally are followed through in regards to scale, massing, colours, materials and detailing of the original fabric, and the integration of public art and sculpture.”

An updated draft is expected to be voted on by the cabinet in early 2022.


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11 Comments for New plans for town centre could see twenty storey high tower blocks:

2021-12-13 17:46:46

Sounds like the same mould as soulless Milton Keynes. Wonder what Sir Gibberd would have thought to this plan?!

2021-12-13 17:52:50

Expletive! Expletive and double expletive. How about putting them in East Herts instead and call it village 8. The lifts will definitely fail in Harlow:) : good places for the homeless to gather because I doubt any of the flats will be affordable or social or Council housing. Just what we don't need an entirely the opposite to the town plan as designed. The idea that to make such structures less obvious and offensive to disguise by adding more high rise buildings defies logic but as long as the property developers are making nice fat profits and industry funding the Conservatives party that's ok. As D Sworder said in the posted video of the cabinet meeting "Build, build, build" .

2021-12-13 17:56:29

Please no more ugly high rises in harlow.

Nicholas Taylor
2021-12-13 18:13:57

This is what the Harlow Alliance Party have been warning of for months, a developers charter which will turn the town centre into a housing estate. I think the article is mis-leading however, this does not mean the Harvey Centre will be demolished, it refers to the parcel of land from the former Little Walk to the area fronting Market Square, siding on one side Broadwalk and on the other side where Gate House once stood. Here we have a Council hell bent on allowing huge flat blocks being built (planning permission has already been granted for at least three), whereas other New Towns such as Stevenage and Basildon have taken an entirely different approach. See this link for more information about the former. https://stevenage-even-better.com/stevenage-regeneration-schemes/

Joan Cook
2021-12-13 22:07:22

For Heavens sake! More mental health problems! When will they learn. Crazy!!

Mr Grumpy
2021-12-14 07:21:20

Welcome to the London Borough of Harlow :(

Mr Grumpy
2021-12-14 07:21:52

Welcome to the new London Borough of Harlow :(

2021-12-14 10:09:08

As we're all well aware the town centre needs regeneration, unfortunately the council can not do this on their own and will need the help of developers to achieve this. Developers are by nature very good at knowing where's best to invest and get a fast, and profitable, ROI. A necessary evil I'm afraid in today's world. Whether you like it or not, the reality is investing in anything is fraught with financial risk. No one wants to invest money then never see it again or no one would be in business for very long. It literally all boils down to an Excel sheet where a formula spits out a percentage number, indicating profitability. The trouble is Harlow's percentage number has to compete with many other town's percentage number, and towns with higher footfall (ie. bigger population and catchment area) return bigger percentages. Therefore in those towns, investors are more likely to recoup money quicker and make more profit. Hence why you won't see a John Lewis in Harlow, but you will in Chelmsford (Harlow's population is 90,000 vs Chelmsford's 160,000). Where would you build a high-end multi-million pound store in this scenario to get your money back quickly and start making profit? There are of course a multitude of other reasons involved in where to invest in new facilities, but at the end of the day with the big boys it does all boil down to where can you make your money back fastest and make most profit. So here's the crux of the problem; the people of Harlow want high-end shops, cultural, transport and leisure facilities but don't want the necessary population increase to facilitate it. Can't have your cake and eat it.

Nicholas Taylor
2021-12-14 10:33:17

Mathew. Much of what you say is the same that was said in the 1980's about Church Langley. However, take a look at what Stevenage are doing. No high rise, has it's own Leisure Park which is ram jammed full evenings and weekends, a new Marks and Sparks opening soon, flower beds and public areas well maintained etc etc, all in a town similar in size to Harlow. What looks likely in Harlow is that we get thousands more homes (most not paying any council tax to Harlow DC or indeed Essex CC) and huge flat blocks in the town centre, but no-where to put new large shops, a larger theatre, new cultural and leisure facilities etc, so many of the new residents will go to Brookfield Farm, Chelmsford and Lakeside to shop. As on-line shopping increases, we should be looking to the future, our town centre needs to become a destination of choice for those looking for leisure and cultural experiences.

Kim Oconnor
2021-12-14 19:16:28

Dear o dear councils don't seem to learn by the pass mistakes. Building as many little box's as you can, to sell of its a never ending greed. Why can't you councils think of future generations, and build council houses. Gave you councils any idea of the housing problems in Harlow, and how many on benefits renting, and benifts paying for it, how many are waiting for accommodation?????? Thers no way theses properties are affordable to most of Harlow people. I say to to this council, and others, you are not building affordable housing, only affordable housing is council. And your not fixing the housing problems. This is a greed and profit thing pure and simple.

2021-12-14 20:11:40

... and up to 34 car parking spaces. ?? - 'Bonus' !

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