Plans for two major crossings across River Stort approved

News / Thu 24th Feb 2022 am28 11:36am

COUNCILLORS in Harlow have backed plans to build a new highway and rail crossing between Hertfordshire and Harlow, which could unlock the area to create a new 10,000 home garden town.

At a four-hour long meeting of the district council’s Development Management committee on February 23rd, Conservative councillors backed plans to improve the existing Stort Crossing and to create a new Eastern Stort Crossing.

Councillors Mike Garnett, John Steer, James Leppard, Nicky Purse and Sue Livings approved the recommendations for a Central and and Eastern Crossing.

Labour councillors Mike Danvers and Jean Clark voted against.

Labour councillor Bob Davis abstained.

We will also have a further breakdown and analysis of what different speakers said. Plus a look at what the future holds.

The plans for the garden village were included in Harlow and East Herts’ district plans in 2018, with developers Places for People seeking permission to build the necessary infrastructure, ahead of outline plans for seven new villages.

The infrastructure works include improvements to the newly-titled Central Stort Crossing, which would alter the existing Fifth Avenue road and rail bridge, and create new bridges to the west to support a widened highway.

The creation of a new Eastern Stort Crossing would bring together three new roads.

Two of the roads would result in a realignment of the current Eastwick Road between the Fifth Avenue roundabout and Pye Corner.

The third new road would travel between the new roundabout and River Way, through woodland and passing over the Stort Valley and River Stort Navigation.

At Wednesday’s meeting, neighbours objecting to the plans raised concerns about whether planners were “putting the horse before the cart” in discussing the road network before any homes had been approved, with others saying the proposals were “too conceptual” when no masterplan for the garden village had been published.

Those living nearby to the new Eastern Crossing also raised concern over the loss of amenity land through compulsory purchase, the impact on noise and air impact, and any potential flooding impact. 

Concerns were also raised over whether adding extra capacity could actually encourage car use if the road preceded the building of new homes, and asked for a more gradual construction process.

However, the developers said the A414 was already under pressure and the plans, which could take three years to complete, were crucial to supporting the area’s infrastructure.

Outlining their proposals, the developers said the new roads, rail bridge and pedestrian routes would support a more sustainable future.

Yuved Bheenick, development director at Places for People, told councillors: “The A414 corridor is already under significant pressure. In order to provide capacity to meet the wider needs of the existing residents and businesses, and for future growth, it’s recognised by Harlow and Gilston Garden Town (HGGT), East Hertfordshire and Harlow Council, as well as the highway authority that connectivity over the River Stort needs to be improved.

“HGGT’s ambition is that 60 per cent of all trips originating from the new communities are to be made by sustainable modes of transport and 50 per cent in established areas across the garden town.

“Enhancements to the existing Fifth Avenue crossing and the creation of a new Stort Valley crossing play a critical role in facilitating this vision to provide a more sustainable future.”

When combined, the crossings will: enable the delivery of HGGT’s transport vision of an integrated network for sustainable transport corridors for the central store crossing part of the network; they’ll provide safer, dedicated routes for pedestrian and cyclists between Harlow town centre,  Harlow Town station, leisure facilities and the Gliston area. 

“They create new public transport routes to and from Harlow station, Harlow town centre, and employment areas, as well as creating a new link through to the new J7a of the M11 and once relocated the new Harlow hospital, which will avoid Harlow town centre. 

“They’ll also assist with improving air quality in and around Harlow town centre as new and improved bus, pedestrian and cycle links will lead to less reliance on the private vehicle by both new and existing communities.”

In the creation of the new eastern bridge, the plans include landscaping to work as a visual and noise buffer to try to alleviate issues to neighbours. The public right of way at Fiddlers’ Brook will also be maintained alongside the new bridge.

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38 Comments for Plans for two major crossings across River Stort approved:

2022-02-24 11:44:41

Why did Cllrs Danvers and Clarke vote against? This was Labour’s plan and they have voted in favour seven times on the matter. It is firmly incorporated in their adopted Harlow Local Plan Dec 2020 and was a key policy document, which Cllr Danvers was a main protagonist. Did they actually read the papers before the meeting? This was one of the Labour administration’s main policies. What material grounds did they base their opposition on? In planning matters, you can’t just change your mind without planning material grounds otherwise it will be appealed at huge legal costs to the town. Surely they must know that.

2022-02-24 12:09:53

I'm surprised that YH should repeat the propaganda out by hggt. Putting traffic from 10000 homes into River Way and Edinburgh Way plus additional heavy goods construction vehicles and machinery onto the A414 will reduce congestion?? How so? Add to this the traffic from the new homes at Newhall and Gilden Way, add the 70 % increase in traffic predicted to flow in from J7a along Gilden Way all converging on The Gates, Mark Hall and Hamburger Roundabouts A414: there's nowhere and no routes to disperse this traffic from the East side of town. Also add to that the 7000 car commuters associated with Kao Park and Public Health England, add the HGV traffic from the massive warehouse distribution centres at Kathryns and the Pinnacles coming through from the west side of town. Total disaster awaits. The sustainable corridors Cllrs say are the answer, no cars or hgvs allowed, but there's nowhere on the perimeter of town, like park and ride for commuters to get out of their cars and what provision is there for heavy goods or even carrying the weekly shopping. Second Avenue is to be widened and part of the no traffic bus and cycling sustainable corridors so traffic will be forced to double up towards Edinburgh Way and Southern Avenue. Today's national news is that the computer modelling systems the transport department has been using has been found to have fundamental flaws that are, and have been totally screwing up, no surprise to residents but some should tell County Hall and the Hggt pfp Tory conspiracy the assurances they have received are built on sand. Also came to notice recently reports of Council Officer advising the Council's feel that they aren't able to give their true opinions because of threats to their careers, surely this should have been resolved before any decision? Cllrs who voted for these plans will probably be moving to the Executive homes in Gilston or have moved on by the time the consequences of these fatal decisions crash into Harlow but at least they will know, like the Admiral of the Queens Navy, " they never thought of thinking for themselves at all" (G&S never composed a truer word)

Michael Szpakowski
2022-02-24 12:22:02

Harlow people will benefit neither from the roads nor the new build. That’s why nearly 6000 people signed the petition against the crossing and in the region of three hundred objections were lodged ( as opposed to the *one* in favour). The Tory councillors who approved this environmental abomination have shown they care more for the developers’ profits than the well being of Harlow people or any conception of democracy . Eternal shame on them and shame, too, on the Labour councillor who, pathetically, couldn’t make his mind up on the environment and on the well being of Harlow people.

2022-02-24 12:25:06

Note: the noise alleviation measures and buffers protect those on the hill, the north side of the Valley Executive homes and active project the sound into and across Harlow. The landscaping and the concave cutting into the north side of the Valley will literally project sound from the road and construction across the town. Anyone even on the South side of Harlow can currently hear trains passing along the railway between Harlow Mill and Town, the landscaping will make this far worse for Harlow and destroy the tranquility of the Valley environment. As for the visual impact the open side, the ugly side of the landscaping can't be seen from Gilston but is and will be very visible from Harlow. And how can you hide a mass millions of tons of concrete and steel raised road structure stretching across the whole valley 40m high in places from view? Total bunkum.

2022-02-24 12:34:57

Nicky Purse the so called portfolio holder for environment voted for for it, Well that's rich after seeing her face plastered about planting trees and telling us how important it was, These people do not have a clue and are laughing at us.

2022-02-24 12:36:35

Correction: the new Road Eastern Crossing will not pass over the Stort Valley but through it along the bottom of the valley on culverts. The worst of all possible options. As pointed out by the uk Environment Agency to hggt pfp and Harlow Council.

2022-02-24 12:48:29

No one has commented Labour’s total duplicity. This has always been a Labour project. Check Chapter 5 of their Harlow Local Development Plan adopted by them December 2020.

Clive Parsons
2022-02-24 13:18:26

It is likely that the whole HGGT area will come under a single enlarged authority once development starts. Therefore, to talk of them as separate communities will quickly become redundant. Harlow is too small for its potential and needs a larger geographic area. Our Parliamentary constituency is soon to be expanded further in order to retain closer population parity. The same has to happen to our District. We have very little available space for new homes or businesses to be established within our current boundaries.

Kim Oconnor
2022-02-24 13:46:21

I'm just sad about this, total destruction of our beautiful river.

Matthew 2
2022-02-24 13:53:31

I concede that my head was turned, and that there were better options than the approved Eastern crossing (Redricks route). But the central crossing is essential if you believe a park & ride at Eastwick has to happen. I'm glad this essentially approves the Gilston development though, so now can people stop with this utter tosh that -all- the new houses will be out of reach of Harlow residents? There will be all sorts of properties built, with incentives and schemes to buy them as the whole thing will be split between multiple house builders, all competing to sell their homes. PfP will not be building them all as they are the master planners. Have a look at Urban & Civic (similar property developer to PfP), and their developments in Wintringham (2,800 homes / 3 house builders so far) and Alconbury Weald (6,500 homes / about 7 house builders so far). I've visited both of these sites multiple times over the last few years and they're brilliantly planned new communities and well delivered so far. They follow a similar pattern to Gilston which is; infrastructure first, housebuilding later. Harlow needs to evolve; it's been stuck in the past for far too long and needs to move with the times for existing and new residents.

Edward Pearson
2022-02-24 14:15:15

Matthew 2. Your comments are most timely. ‘Harlow needs to evolve; it’s been stuck in the past for far too long…’ This is so true. It has been administered for too long by a far-left inept Labour administration that has been fatalistic, stuck in the past and devoid of vision and ambition. This is now changing. The new Council has a dynamism that has been missing. The Town needs to grow. Your comment regarding a range of houses is correct. We have already seen this in Church Langley and Newhall. Anybody reading some of the comments here would think that Harlow is full of paupers. This is not true. There is a good deal of affluence and we want this to increase across the town. Your comments are well made.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-02-24 14:50:01

Interesting comments here already, CONNIE is right of course about the Labour Councillors present. CLIVE PARSONS says that it is likely that this whole HGGT area will come under one area,. Really? Why would East Herts want to do this when they will get millions of pounds in New Homes Bonus and Council tax payments, whilst having only to provide minimal services such as refuse collection. MATHEW 2 says about the range of homes to be built, the fact is, there are no Council owned ones, we have already seen the huge cost of new homes being built locally (average £590,000), most local people are not able to afford such prices even when sold as affordable. EDWARD says that Harlow needs to evolve and that there is a good deal of affluence and we want this to increase across the town. Who is we? Sounds like property developer speak to me. These homes are not in Harlow or indeed Essex. How does this development spread prosperity across the town? To date no-one has mentioned the 2 to 3 years disruption these road works will take, Oh that does not matter, it only affects those of us already living here.

Edward Vine
2022-02-24 16:52:05

More to the point of the Council meeting last night 23rd Feb.' It wasn't about housing but all about trashing the Stort River Valley ecology, Flood plain and more flooding by the crossings that didn't need to happen: there's many other more people, environment friendly and lower cost options that were ignored.

2022-02-24 17:28:54

I think this will signal the death of business in Harlow. I personally know of several companies that have thought about coming to Harlow then changing their minds after spending 30 minutes trying to get into town to view sites. Riverway has just got back to normal after 2 years of disruption due to the work on the A414 near gates. I am guessing we are looking at another 2-5 years of disruption. I seem to remember the original Harlow plan had provision for all the main roads around the town to be turned into dual carriageways so the town could handle future expansion. This never happened but they are steaming ahead with the expansion. It will not end well

Matthew 2
2022-02-24 17:33:20

Edward V: Appologies you are right, I digress. In my opinion; Central Stort crossing - good, glad it's going ahead. Eastern Crossing, should've gone Redricks route instead. But I must say Nicholas, I think it's disingenuous implying by association homes will be a average of £590,000 on Gilston.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-02-24 17:57:03

Mathew, that is the average price of the new homes built in Harlow in 2020/21 reported by Harlow Council. Do you really think those with an address of Gilston, Hertfordshire will be any less, the same will apply for those to be built to the South and West of Harlow, which will have an Epping or Roydon address. Don't forget that those buying these homes will be paying a premium so that the loans obtained to build the infrastructure can paid back to the government and this includes any shortfall in paying for the new hospital. This latter fact was pointed out at the Harlow Local Development Plan examinations, a representative from the hospital stated this, an agent working for the developers looked gob smacked.

Matthew 2
2022-02-24 18:41:57

Are you really saying a 1-bed flat / a 3-bed town house / a 2-bed coach house for example will all sell for an average of £590,000?! Admittedly I haven't seen the report you speak of (if you can provide me the link I will read it), but I would say that figure is heavily skewed towards freehold houses. I can't think of many new build flats completed within the town recently. The new block of flats next to the station; they're selling 1-bed flats from £232,500. The Wych Elm flats are from £190,000 (all reserved by the way at various prices). Do you really think those with an address of Gilston, Epping or Roydon will be any more?

Nicholas Taylor
2022-02-24 18:58:33

What the council report said was the average price was £590k for a new build, for an existing home it is £292k. There will obviously be cheaper homes, these will mostly be small flats, the two bed homes at Wych Elm are £300k and more, with very little open space. Those just outside of the town will on average be much more than in Harlow for the reasons I explained. Just take a look at house prices in Church Langley and compare that with an area like Deer park and you will see a marked difference.

Jenny Whelan
2022-02-24 20:01:14

An absolute disgrace. Has anyone taken in to account the amount of existing houses that will be put up for sale when you ruin the landscape and the infrastructure of the surrounding areas.

Matthew 2
2022-02-24 21:22:42

Nicholas: "for a new build" what type of new build? 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 Bed / Detached / Semi-detached / no garden / large garden / location...etc? this is crucial as £590k average price lumps all types of homes into one, when actually the average 2 bed new build house -could- be £250k, much more affordable and within reach of the average person. £590k is to me based on vagaries right now, I'm being told to 'just trust me'. Is there a link please, so I can read it and draw my own conclusions? Also, I've lived in a flat for 7 years. Nothing wrong with that, they were not "future slums" as I've seen mentioned on here a few times by others, we have many magnificent open spaces in this town for people to get out and about in as I did. The most expensive flat at Wych Elm is £325k for the penthouse flat(s), the bigger flats towards the top of the building naturally will be more expensive because of better views. The flats from the bottom floor up are from £190k and (were) available in a buying scheme. This will be typical of all new build homes and developments.

Neil Warner Baker
2022-02-24 23:32:16

Woo woo , Connie and Co, I have been no friend to the Labour Party over the matter of the Stort crossings, but am so grateful for the humility, that the Labour Party have seen sense and acknowledge that the planss put forward by hggt and the Developers are not the vision of a sustainable transport system. However, I feel betrayed by the Conservative Party because.. they campaigned against Hggt etc taking our green spaces around our town and got our votes but.. now they are in power, the Fat controller (Michelle Hardware) has told them how to vote.. And like lemons they did. .. (G O T.. Shame)

Nicholas Taylor
2022-02-25 00:14:40

Mathew, I am afraid I cannot remember what document this statement was in, just one line really based on all prices of homes sold that year. Don't trust me if you do not want to, but I can assure you this is in a council document. You won't find a new house costing £250k in Harlow or indeed anywhere locally. For those on low incomes, any sort of home is beyond them to buy, you cannot go on the Councils housing register if you have an income (or joint income) of more than £41k per year but there still hundreds of families who on the waiting list. For those earning just above that limit there is no choice but to rent privately or indeed to move into a home in multi-occupation. The simple fact is, the real housing crisis is being borne by those most in need but the homes being built do not meet this need.

Angela Kurton
2022-02-25 09:02:41

I urge all readers to completely disregard any comments written under pseudonyms. These people do not have the courage or conviction to take part in the dialogue in an honest way, and may have active reasons for concealing who they are. We potentially have a widespread problem with identity deceit on Your Harlow. I am particularly fascinated to know who “Connie” really is, because the sum total of their contributions across this forum is political point-scoring, with a conservative perspective (as the pseudonym suggests). It is my sincere hope that this person is not an elected conservative counsellor posing as a regular member of the public in order to create a stir.

2022-02-25 09:16:02

Angela Kurton, I resent your comment. Who are you. I am a normal resident of Harlow and have spoken with the Editor of YH , Michael Casey. Just because I hold a different opinion to you is my right. It is called free speech and democracy; get used to it. We are not living in Putin’s dictatorship. I did vote for the current Administration (as did many in Harlow) as I believe Harlow needed a change after almost a decade of neglect and incompetence. However, I am not a member of any party. I want Harlow to succeed and prosper. Suggest you ceasing your infantile conspiracy theories and accept legitimate debate and the right of others to hold opinions different to yours.

2022-02-25 10:01:52

Underneath my house is a field, terrible really.

2022-02-25 11:08:41

Matthew 2 makes mention of the many magnificent open spaces in the town on one hand, while voraciously backing the building of toy town, identikit properties on those very magnificent open spaces. I note that the price of flats in Edingburgh House are already being reduced in price to sell, probably because of the future impact of even more traffic rumbling past the site than at present.

Angela Kurton
2022-02-25 11:33:16

Connie, you, like many contributors, do not have the courage or conviction to post using your true identity. That’s the long and the short of it, and I’m not the slightest bit sorry to be raising the issue here.

2022-02-25 12:02:35

Glad to see you’re all getting on well :D

2022-02-25 12:24:06

Angela Kurton, what the hell are you talking about? Real identity? My name is Maria Constanza Sosa - known as Connie. How the hell do I know who you are? Not that I care.

Kim Oconnor
2022-02-25 12:41:45

Connie,,, I don't know how you can say people are allowed there opinions, when all you have done to me is not allowing mine.. I've noticed if you read something you come back on people, and not in a very nice way. We do not agree with you, except it , and move on.you don't have to all ways respond if you don't like what you hear.

Neil Warner-Baker
2022-02-25 12:47:54

OK enough, to explain; Connie, Angela's comment comes because senior Cllrs have most probably been masquerading as a female member of his own family, should the gentleman concerned wish to wear a dress then he should perhaps be more trans parent, I have many friends in the LGBT community who would be able to offer confidential advice. Regards Neil

2022-02-25 12:52:01

Kim O’Connor I have the same right to express my opinion as you. It is called free speech. Why should I be censured by you or anyone else? This is supposed a forum for debate and to read different views.

2022-02-25 12:56:07

Glad to see all the political point scoring on here is continuing! I am a resident of Harlow, and I'm totally fed up with it all. Councillors of whatever party are voted in place to represent their community, and to do what is best for the town and its residents. I really don't care about who proposed this or who voted for it. My concern is whether this scheme is going to be good or bad for Harlow, its environment and its residents? Are we going to benefit from it, or suffer from the consequences when it is built? The Councillors who vote on such schemes should be making decisions that are for the good of the town, not for the good of their own party, or their own pockets. If this scheme is going to be a bad one for the town, then they should not allow it to go ahead. However, as we have seen from some of the decisions that have been made in the past - I wont hold my breath. That huge awful warehouse at Katherines that was built at the end of peoples gardens for example. How was that given permission to be built? I don't care which political party they belong to, but the Councillors responsible for giving permission for that should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Surely they knew how badly that was going to affect the lives of the people living in its large shadow? If they can get that wrong so badly, then what else are they going to get wrong? So my message to the Councillors of all parties is - stop the blame game and start making decisions that are the best for this town and its people - not the best for yourselves!

Matthew 2
2022-02-25 14:54:36

@Angela my name is Matt Dixon, known on here as Matthew 2 because another one posted before me on another thread, and Matthew 2 has stuck. I'm not a undercover tory spin-doctor, or property developer - an ordinary memeber of the public. My comments above are now valid yes? Not directed at anyone: This is getting silly now. Look, I too am a resident of Harlow (who voted for the current council) but bear no loyalty to any party. I'm deperate for my town to move in to the future and stop treading water, that it's suffered with for so many years. A large part of that in my view is Gilston and the town centre regeneration. I have many more points to make and rebuttals to people above, but it's becomming apparent on here is not the place to do so now.

Neil Warner-Baker
2022-02-25 15:31:36

It's to be discussed on BBC Essex at 4.30 today Neil.. My Real name... P. S agree with Mike totally

Mr Grumpy
2022-02-25 16:28:19

To those who approved this abomination, if you bang on about saving the environment ever again, please don't be surprised if I hit you with a barrage of expletives.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-02-25 17:49:01

The two decisions made on Wednesday prove if nothing else, that there is no difference between the two main Parties who take the view that 'we know best'. In this case it really is the tail wagging the dog, our neighbouring local authorities, East Herts, Epping Forest, Herts CC and Essex CC are all taking decisions about the future of Harlow and Harlow Council are tagging along believing these developments around Harlow will regenerate the town. The same arguments were made by developers in the 1980's when Church Langley was being planned, the downward slope whether it was the state of the town centre, pot holes, bus routes being deleted etc has continued ever since. This whole article demonstrates that we need Councillors who put Harlow and it's residents first.

2022-02-25 18:36:37

Nicholas Taylor's opening paragraph says it all really. These river crossings will do nothing to reduce vehicular congestion on Harlow's roads, which can only get worse with 10,000 new homes on the town's doorstep. The work will take a number of years to complete, affecting all of us already living here. Does beg the question of why there is no direct road leading North from the new development or indeed a direct road leading into The Pinnacles in Harlow.

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