Letter to Editor: The Stort Crossing is the Labour Party’s plan. They signed it and sealed it. They own it.

Harlow Council / Mon 31st Jan 2022 pm31 03:39pm

Dear Editor, 

SINCE 2016, the Labour group has voted no less than seven times at council meetings to approve the Stort Crossing. They passed every step of the plans since the idea was first brought forward. They never held any proper public consultation.

It is nothing less than scandalous to try and blame anyone else than the previous Labour Council who approved the crossing seven times and to a point that it is virtually impossible to stop it now, given that they have done this with four other authorities.

If that bridge is built, it will not be down to the Planning Committee, who are constrained and only able to vote on strict legal planning grounds, but down to the Labour Councillors who voted seven times to go ahead with this. 

And if they say they didn’t know what they were voting for, well that’s even worse. 

In fact, it was in their Local Plan in December 2020 (see red line on map below showing their planned bridge). And guess what, they all voted for that too. In fact, it is mentioned no less than eight times in their Local Plan.

The Stort Crossing is the Labour Party’s plan. They signed it and sealed it. They own it.

Jamie Henderson

Save The Stort

 Labour’s Local Plan page 50, page 101, page 102, page 108 https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/g1276/Public%20reports%20pack%2015th-Oct-2020%2019.30%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10
 13 October 2016 Item 11 pages 33, 46, 47  https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/g777/Public%20reports%20pack%2013th-Oct-2016%2019.30%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10
 22 June 2017 Item 13 pages 123 and 126 https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/g873/Public%20reports%20pack%2022nd-Jun-2017%2019.30%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10
 7 December 2017 Item 10 pages 48, 80, 101, 123, 124, 128  https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/g891/Public%20reports%20pack%2007th-Dec-2017%2019.30%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10
 6 December 2018 Item 15 pages 116, 117, 118, 122, 174, 179, 220, 221, 222, 235 https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/g1014/Public%20reports%20pack%2006th-Dec-2018%2019.30%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10
 13 September 2018 (Local Plan submission to Inspector) https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/g1012/Public%20reports%20pack%2013th-Sep-2018%2019.30%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10
 28 February 2019 Item 10 pages 34, 35 and 46 https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/g1016/Public%20reports%20pack%2028th-Feb-2019%2019.30%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10
 15 October 2020 Item 10 pages 26, 27, 28, 32, 36, 42, 43, 48, 53 https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/g1276/Public%20reports%20pack%2015th-Oct-2020%2019.30%20Cabinet.pdf?T=10

Jamie Henderson

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27 Comments for Letter to Editor: The Stort Crossing is the Labour Party’s plan. They signed it and sealed it. They own it.:

Michael Hardware
2022-01-31 15:57:01

Thank you Jamie, an excellent letter, well researched. We, as in the Conservative administration, have inherited some huge projects from Labour, a number of which we do not like but can do little to stop or even change direction - the proverbial supertanker. So we have to work with what we have got and try and do and get the best for our town.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-01-31 16:04:51

The Conservative Party are just as much to blame, because they support the development to the North of Harlow and have to the best of my knowledge never come up with any alternative to these transport proposals which will destroy a whole swathe of the land around the River Stort. The central river crossing will do nothing to alleviate traffic problems on roads joining the roundabout at Harlow Town Station, the Eastern crossing simply moves the bottlenecks on Harlow's roads to other locations. At the heart of all this is the collusion between the authorities involved in the creation of Harlow and Gilston Garden Town, which ensured that residents were not properly consulted about these proposals.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-01-31 17:26:48

My comment was typed before Councillor Michael Hardware's comment appeared. The Conservative group have always said as far as I can ascertain, that they supported development to the North of the Town, indeed it is their Government that has poured tens of millions of pounds into the development pot to kick start it. Whilst they have publicly stated their opposition to the developments to the South of the town, they never made their views known to the Planning Inspector looking at the EFDC Plan until sending just a few lines in a letter on the last day of the most recent consultation exercise undertaken by EFDC, some three years later than when it really might have been affective. We haver a Tory Council now, as is, East Herts, Epping Forest DC, Hertfordshire CC and ESSEX CC, collectively they have the power to rescind these proposals.

Kim Oconnor
2022-01-31 19:43:10

You councils have the power to stop the damage that will be done to our river stort. I still can't believe that you all want to see this river being damaged, our environment, our wildlife left damaged yet again. If you had any feelings for people who live here, leave us this only peaceful beautiful place we have now, to escape to. You all speak of environment. You all speak of rewilding. You all speak of planting tree's. While all the time knowing the damage you will be causing. It will be unforgivable if you destroy this river, and something that will stay in our memory if this goes a head. You would of lost my vote, and I hope many more will follow. SAVE OUR STORT CAMPAIGNERS.

Yasmin Gregory
2022-01-31 23:00:03

It really is time to stop playing political hot potato. Just all agree that the crossing and 30ft bridge will be shelved. We should be concentrating on reducing our carbon emissions and not taking Herts pollution either on our roads or in our rivers.

2022-02-01 10:20:40

Cllr.Hardware publically has declared in the register of members interests that he is an associate director of Chelgate a property development consulting company, and as such will not make pecuniary gain. He is therefore an expert and should be well placed to advise HarlowCouncil how to stop the crossings and Save Our Stort. The Consulting Company, Chelgate have publicity that seems to say they are very successful at "releasing" green belt land for housing and it looks like they have advised on the proposed developments at Latton, which appears to be part of the hggt pfp development of which the Gilston estate development and of which the ecologically devastating Eastern Raised Road of Stort River Valley is a key part. The planning committee meetings last year at East Herts and Harlow Councils to give planning permission for the Central Crossing (which will also be environmentally damaging with a loss of habitat and flood prevention plain) were stopped in their tracks by a legal challenge by one of the hggt's own associates, the owners of Hunsdon House. This basically on the grounds that the plans made no logical sense and exposed the Councils HGGT pfp to further legal action by any other party not least because of the damage the Eastern and Central crossings will do. All agreements are subject to planning permission and Harlow Council, especially the Conservative majority administration has the duty to act and the power to stop the crossing, just as Cllr Hardware and co., have said they would block other elements of the hggt pfp scheme they can refuse to give permission and block these crossings. They do nothing but bad for Harlow and Harlow Council has a duty to act in the best interests of residents here, not East Herts Conservative chums. There was no referendum in Harlow and the negative impacts of the Gilston hggt on traffic, pollution, congestion, the destruction of the Stort Valley Valley ecology, the much increased risks of flooding in Harlow and the far greater frequency of the discharges of raw sewage were not put before the residents in a clear and transparent manner. The new Environment Bill 2021 is relevant the project will decrease biodiversity and the proportion of floodplain will be reduced by a significant amount rather than increased by 10% to increase biodiversity. Let's not have another fiasco like the humongous monster warehouses at Kathryns, passed by the Council with Cllr Hardware shedding crocodile tears. As for which party pushed this through, labour was suckered and the conservatives applauded the proposals, whilst hatching plans to far worse with plans to create a mini city: they, Labour and Conservative are our Councillors and above party each needs to examine their consciences and put Harlow residents and our environment first. 6000 petitioners and Robert Halfon MP have said go back to the drawing board, not to do so is a betrayal. There's better ways of doing this. .

Edward Vine
2022-02-01 10:22:39

Honourable gentleman and ladies of the council, stop playing the blame game. Save Our Stort or resign

Kim Oconnor
2022-02-01 11:52:30

Michael hardware, stop stop passing the buck. You all could still stop this, you councils have never given us friends of Latton Island the back up from start, you have not wanted to speak to us except Mr halfon. But his one man, up against all you. By not building the monstrosity of a road going through our beautiful river stort, will not effect your greedy house builds. You still can change this, so stop passing the buck now, we heard enough of it.

Angela Kurton
2022-02-01 12:35:22

I’m not sure that establishing past responsibility is going to help us at this point. Yes, it’s a scandal that any of this has gone through, and the reality is that many individuals have made bad judgements, at all kinds of levels, right up to the national politicians who are mandating rampant housing development on green belt. In the end, thought, it is collective and shared responsibility. The question is, what do we do, all of us, here and now, to reverse the direction of the juggernaut? It can be done, but everyone needs to think about the power available to them as councillors, as individuals, and have the courage and conviction to speak up in all the forums available.

Matthew 2
2022-02-01 13:10:08

Gilston will go ahead. There's too much money involved for it to stop. So genuine question to the people opposed to the new crossing; if we don't build the crossing, what's your alternative proposal to moving the increase in traffic across the Stort?

2022-02-01 13:27:21

We need to know the legal basis for opposing or whether Labour has through their Harlow Development Plan December 2020 bound the Council within the HGGT project. Planning laws are such they opposition has to have a basis in law.

2022-02-01 14:02:02

How many have actually visited the site of the proposed crossing and Latton Island? The crossing is nowhere near Latton Island and would certainly not be visible from it. As for Latton Island itself, it has been portrayed as some bucolic sanctuary: far from it. Much of the Island looks like Steptoe’s yard with piles of rusting bicycles. Less than 25 metres away is a huge cement type factory and rows of industrial warehouses where the dainty sound of any Warblers is drowned out by a constant stream of lorries passing by. It is no latter day Garden of Eden, for sure.

Kim Oconnor
2022-02-01 19:29:14

JANES.... ,If That's your real name. We all know latton Island. And it's a beautiful place. You seem to come on theses comments not knowing any facts what so ever. You probably don't even live here.

Julie Taylor
2022-02-01 22:02:09

@Cllr Hardware. Good to hear your point of view. I say that because so far, a wall of silence from the Conservatives. However, when you say " have inherited some huge projects from Labour, a number of which we do not like but can do little to stop or even change direction", I have to disagree. The vote hasn't been taken yet, it could be stopped, all that needs to happen is a show of "No" and it's the end of the story. That part of the Plan could be extracted, it might not be easy, but it's possible and so much better than the alternative. Talking of alternatives, there is an alternative. You received a report from Friends of Latton Island, there is an alternative outlined in the report. So far, no response. How rude. @matthew 2. Would you like to see the report? It does have an alternative for you to look at. Check out Friendsoflattonisland.co.uk it's in there. I personally believe that the crossing is an unnecessary road of destruction. People's habits are changing, more and more are working from home, instead of jumping in the car, people are walking downstairs to their offices. That means less commuters on the road. When it comes to the inhabitants of "The Villages" we have to ask, will they want to pop into Harlow continuously? These are high end houses, will they not perhaps drive the other direction to Stortford or Cambridge etc for their days out, restaurant and shopping trips. There's little for them in Harlow. And in time, the villages will have their own supermarkets, doctors surgeries and schools. We suggested a park and ride in our report? Why not hold fire on the crossing and see if there really is a need for it. For construction deliveries of which there will be many, why not use the empty rail sidings for transportation, another way to avoid traffic and congestion. Do we really want all those lorries coming through the town? @Janes, the island serves a purpose for boaters in need. so yes, it does give sanctuary when needed. I agree that the bikes need to be dispatched. It's still a peaceful place and I've never heard the noise from the cement factory. Even if you couldn't see the crossing and road from the island you'll certainly be able to hear it. Please see the noise pollution charts in our report. I don't plan to give you a lesson in biodiversity but will say that so will the bats hear it, they'll also be affected by the light pollution. They will leave. They eat mosquitos, just that one species leaving the area will upset the biodiversity to detriment, let alone the other flora and fauna that will be affected. So, I say, for the zillionth time. Leave the river alone. We have a climate emergency, building a road that will emit 19,512,252 kg CO² per Year. (Nearly 20 million kg of CO2 each year) just during it's construction is obscene. Where's the justification? To line the developer's pocket? Build some fancy houses that the people of Harlow can't afford? It won't reduce our waiting list. No, it's wrong on every level. I speak for thousands of people in Harlow who don't want it and never will. Please take heed Cllr Hardware, the people of Harlow won't forgive you if you betray them

Nicholas Taylor
2022-02-01 22:44:33

Taken from a recent council document, the average price of a house in Harlow in 2021 was £276,000. For a new house it was £590,000. The thousands of homes being proposed on Harlow's borders will do nothing to help those in real need, the so called villages will be a commuter belt, because there will be very few new jobs being created on site, which can mean only one thing, chaos on Harlow's roads. What we need amongst other things is a park and ride scheme, roads heading north from the Gilston development (if built), a better, cheaper bus service and of course extending the oyster card to both rail stations in Harlow.

2022-02-02 09:57:13

The Story Valley a tranquil natural green heritage corridor that is shared between the people of Harlow and rare precious wildlife. It helps protect the town from flooding and managed to survive pollution and sewage discharges, it's got irreplacible ancient trees and wetlands but Gilston development, the raised road (Eastern Crossing) cutting across it the destruction of flood plain at the Central Crossing will destroy and ancient landscape that's managed to survive from the dumping of waste when Harlow was built. Works proposed will likely disturb the dumped waste which counts building materials like asbestos that were permitted 75 years ago. In fact "re modelling " works to protect Gilston from the noise of the proposed Eastern crossing and construction (& will project it like the traffic towards Harlow) have already disturbed such waste. There are clear, less costly and far more environmentally friendly transport options as outlined in the reports compiled with expert advice, check them out. They have been sent to the Councils. The Valley needs to be designated as a regional green park and conservation area and linked to the Lee Valley Regional Park for all our sakes and that of the wildlife as part of making our environment Climate Change resilient.

Brown Envelopes
2022-02-02 10:06:48

The point of a planning application and Committee is to make decisions to deny or grant permissions in the interests of the Harlow residents. Planning Committees have not yet met so how is it that our new Council cannot act? Decisions have to be made before contracts are signed. Who is gaining? Certainly not Harlow. Follow the money. Perhaps the blockage is caused by the many brown envelopes and donations that may have passed methinks?

Angela Kurton
2022-02-02 12:16:46

In relation to the item by the anonymous commenter “JANES”: We are not just talking about the small garden where the boats are moored. The issue is the whole valley ecosystem. While it is already harmed by its proximity to Harlow and the the A414, it is still habitat and just about all we have on this side of Harlow. It is certainly worth fighting for, given the global collapse of biodiversity. On another note, your anonymity enables you to make malicious comments that you clearly think you could be challenged on. Note, however, that most readers can see through this.

Matthew 2
2022-02-02 12:44:40

@Julie. Few things; thank you for the link to the site, I'm reading through the report now. Firstly: none of the links so far within the document work, it doesn't appear to have been generated as a Interactive PDF. I'm trying to see the link to the noise assesments on Page 8 and can't click through. Secondly: I'll wait to read the entire FOLI report before I make any of my own conclusions from it. But just initial thoughts to above, even a park and ride will still need to move more buses across the Stort and people are people, there will still be a very large contingent who will opt for the comfort of a private car. Even if we took the option of using some sort of mass transit system, that'll also require new infrastructure. In any of these scenarios it'll have to be some form of new bridge or massively widening the current bridge which I don't think would be hugely popular either. Not upgrading ways to get across the Stort isn't an option, something has to be done. • Even if you used empty sidings, the train stations are on the wrong side of the river - you'd still need to get the material over to Gilston. So instead you'd have a queue of lorries picking up materials from either one of two stations that already have limited access. So in this scenario what's better? lorries heading through town that would already be loaded and constantly moving, or queues of lorries creating standstill chaos in the immediate area of the stations for over a decade. What's the better of two bad situations? • Working habit changes are still far too early to predict long-term; in my industry and experience, it is a job that can be done at home (and I've argued for it) however the people paying the wages are telling us you must come in full-time still. • Let me ask, to reduce the housing waiting list, please tell me where you would build the required 100s/1000s of new council homes? Out on to Harlow's green belt borders or in many residential tower blocks within the borders?

Julie Taylor
2022-02-03 13:03:00

@Matthew Thanks for your response. I've checked the PDF's and the links work for me. I'll do some further investigation and if I need to swap the pdf's over I will do so. I am really pleased you brought this up as I had no idea there was a problem. You can copy the url's to your browser and view them that way if necessary. In answer to your question about the sidings being on the wrong side of the river temporary cranes would solve the issue and scenario that you have described. In answer to your question about how to solve the housing issue, I can't answer that. I'm not a politician or a strategist or a development planner. I'm a local resident who wants to save our green spaces and in particular our river. Gilston, I'm sure will indeed go ahead as you've stated, however, I do not believe that it will help reduce our housing deficit as it's not council housing, if it were I may feel differently. I'm not even sure if any of the housing association housing that will be build will go to Harlow residents as it will be under East Herts DC not Harlow and they have a housing list as well. Let's hope it does help. Part of my objection is that East Herts reap the benefits and Harlow carries the burden.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-02-04 12:11:41

In response to your comments Julie, I can find no undertaking being given to Harlow Council to provide access to homes provided by Housing Associations who will be building homes on the site, why would they, East Herts have enough families on their Housing Register to deal with. If you take a look at my article earlier this week, you will find Councils across Hertfordshire throwing out their Local Plans and questioning the Governments targets for house building which are based on out of date statistics.

Matthew 2
2022-02-07 12:32:27

@Julie - no problem, I hope you're still keeping an eye on this thread - I'll try and contact you through the FOLI Facebook page to try and get a updated PDF. I have read through most of the first report and see that it's addressed a few of the points I've raised (particularly the train sidings solution; running up Harlow Road, then across an upgraded Redricks road). Also, I never knew the history about Latton Mill and the Roman Temple area. Extremely interesting! This is exactly what I want to see - counter solutions, constructive dialogue about how to move forwards. I find a lot of people putting their point across in these comments are essentially whining - complaining with no solution. Just to continue the discussion on the other points; • No denying your point about wanting to save the green spaces, as it's the right thing to do. My concern is that Harlow is becoming a more attractive place to live; so we'll need more housing (Council and/or private) for the current residents, as well as future residents. But (this isn't aimed at you) I don't see anyone coming up with a viable solution as to where to put new housing. This leads me back to my point of a lot of people whining - they don't want any new housing, but do want new council homes being built. They don't want to build on the green belt, but also don't want residential tower blocks. Some members of the public need to decide which way they want to go, upwards or outwards. • Maybe Harlow will carry some burden with the loss of council tax, but crucially the residents of Gilston will use Harlow's facilities (human nature - majority of us are lazy beings) so therefore the footfall and catchment area of Harlow will dramatically rise, so from a commercial point of view it would be a better proposition for higher-end commercial and leisure investment, not just in the town centre, but across the town. Along with funds for better GP surgeries and dentists.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-02-07 13:38:38

Matthew 2, it has often been the case that when people have become better informed about all of these plans, they can see why others have been are raising objections. Harlow Council did and still does have plans to build council homes, these are primarily on brownfield sites, but they should build homes for older and impaired residents who in turn vacate their homes freeing them up for those in need. Its called 'making best use of existing stock'. Two problems with your latter points, as things stand Harlow Town Centre will become just a housing estate of high rise blocks, plans already agreed mean there is little space to increase the number leisure and cultural facilities in the centre. Secondly, plans to build leisure facilities and more shops at Brookfield Farm just 15 minutes away and with it's free parking will prove very attractive for the thousands of residents living in their £500k homes, it already does for anyone wanting to visit a large M&S.

David Forman
2022-02-08 11:52:46

Labour Councillors could have killed this at the Cabinet meeting of 15 October 2020 under Agenda item 10 and the evidence is in paragraphs 41 to 44 of a report (link at end of comment). The key to all this is Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) for 9 parcels of private land to build the two Stort Crossings. To get the Government's Housing Investment Grant construction needs to be completed within 5 years and CPOs were crucial to achieving it. To obtain a CPO a local authority must prove a "compelling reason in the public interest". The point at which Labour Councillors could have stopped the destruction of Latton Island is also where they agreed the Crossings would IMPROVE the ENVIRONMENT! Paragraph 44 states: "in considering whether to provide support in principle for the use of CPO the Council must agree that the purpose of the land assembly to deliver these two crossings will in principle contribute to achieving the promotion or improvement of the economic, social or environmental well-being of the area." Minutes of the Cabinet meeting shows Mark Hall ward Labour councillor Danny Purton proposing it and Netteswell ward Labour councillor Mike Danvers seconding it. (see paragraph 47) https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/documents/s16791/CPO%20Report.pdf

2022-02-08 12:58:59

Don't forget the Eastern Crossing will bisect the Valley and destroy Habitats, Habitats upstream and downstream, increase flooding (see East Herts planning portal, their own consultants predicted this) and sewage discharges, (because the Thames Trunk sewer that they assumed would cope, is already failing) .Rail heads in River way and at the existing one at Harlow Mill can travel north on the A1184 and across to site via an enhanced route much along the lines of Redricks Lane but avoiding existing housing. Rail is vastly greener than road. See transport reports in media today, developments like Hggt pfp are greenwashing with ideas of low carbon transport but in reality are vastly increasing car traffic.

Julie Taylor
2022-02-08 13:39:29

@matthew Please do get in touch. @david, you’ve just posted verbatim on the FOLI Facebook page with a different name? I’ve approved your post but in all honesty, playing the blame game will not save the Stort. The river and the wildlife don’t care who started it and frankly, neither do I. The ultimate decision lays with the Development Committee, it will be their legacy. And if they vote yes then they can have that on their conscience.

Kim Oconnor
2022-02-09 08:51:52

Absolutely Julie, if they vote yes for this to go a head, it will be there legacy, and on there conscience.

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