Letter to Editor: So Councillor Hardware, how is this proposed future growth benefiting anyone in Harlow?

Politics / Wed 19th Oct 2022 at 05:25pm

Dear Editor,

I NOTICE in the Harlow Times that Councillor Michael Hardware celebrates the population increase from 81,900 to 93,300 between 2011 and 2021, claiming it a sign of how ‘Harlow is a welcoming, friendly place’.

How many of these new residents have been forced out of their previous homes by social cleansing, to live in sub-standard repurposed office blocks such as Terminus House. In 2020 there were 12 office block conversions in Harlow with at least one BBC investigation into how damaging these ‘ghettos’ are for those unfortunate enough to live in them.

Robert Halfon himself called for these to be scrapped in 2020 but as far as I can tell they are still in use, Terminus House is a particularly visible example, being central to the town.

Harlow residents didn’t welcome these conversions and certainly haven’t welcomed the influx of additional residents without any investment in local infrastructure. The promised hospital seems to have been mothballed, the promised jobs at Public Health England haven’t materialised and in the meantime, GP surgeries have closed, schools are creaking at the seams and people who have been on the waiting lists for housing are still waiting. In fact, it appears people who don’t regularly chase their progress are deemed ‘no longer in need’ and removed from the list.

Local residents are seeing green spaces disappearing, being replaced by monolithic blocks that are too expensive for the majority of existing residents who urgently need housing. The countryside surrounding Harlow is being eroded by ‘villages’ which are basically additional housing estates lumped onto the outskirts of the town, again, without any thought to the strain on services. The intent being to attract commuters priced out of London, the knock-on effect being pricing Harlow people out of Harlow and reducing our quality of life. As it stands Harlow is almost at a standstill during school pick-up and drop-off times, where was all this extra traffic supposed to go? Oh right, we’re all supposed to walk, cycle or use the bus. Have you actually met people?

Harlow is ranked the 9th most child poverty area in the county and people rating their health as very good is less than the national average. Add to that woeful record the fact that Harlow is already the 8th most densely populated local authority area in the East of England and things are not looking good for Harlow.

So Councillor, how is this growth and proposed future growth benefiting anyone in Harlow? Will we just get more flower pots, tables and umbrellas in the market square to cheer us all up? Can we sit there while we’re on hold for hours trying to get a GP appointment? When is enough, enough? When is too much, too much?

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8 Comments for Letter to Editor: So Councillor Hardware, how is this proposed future growth benefiting anyone in Harlow?:

2022-10-19 17:35:52

It doesn't show that ‘Harlow is a welcoming, friendly place’ - it shows that it's one of the cheaper places to live in with a commuter line in London. I left Harlow a number of years ago now and I do keep up with the local news very regularly and visit now and again as it's my town of birth - but dear god every single time I visit the town centre it fills me with dread.

2022-10-20 10:21:09

A well written piece that I suspect reflects the majority of residents feelings, especially if they have been living in this town for a significant period of time. For those who are unaware this town once had an Olympic size swimming pool with diving boards, a velodrome, a world class sports Center, a cricket pitch with pub on the boundary, and even an artificial ski slope. All of the above have been turned into housing. In fact it is safe to say that all development in the town has had a net negative effect on the residents since about 1980. Something needs to change! We have increasing need for food banks over the past 10 years. Something needs to change!

View from Afar
2022-10-20 10:21:46

A very well thought out letter and gives an accurate picture of what’s happening to Harlow. I moved to Harlow in 1953, my parents were full of hope particularly that 2nd generation children would get houses or flats quickly, something that never happened. If they were still alive today they would be shocked how much Harlow has been built up but gone downhill at the same time.

2022-10-20 11:44:52

Absolutely agree with Theman and View from Afar on all their points. In addition, I live near Howard Way, the roads are constantly gridlocked and will get worse with the addition of Lidl in the coming weeks, and the new 'village' in Gilston in the coming years.

David Forman
2022-10-20 11:46:27

The Labour Party have in charge of Harlow Council for the majority of its history and their latest 12-year stint didn't achieve much for the town centre. To attract the better shops and amenities a town has to reach a certain size, as has Milton Keynes and Stevenage. However, it is not just the numbers of people it is also their disposable income that counts. The preponderance of warehouses gives a clue to the low wage economy in Harlow alongside those without jobs for various reasons. All towns grow over time, but this shouldn't be at the expense of existing amenities. The arrival of PHE was seen as a new beginning, but don't worry Gilston Garden Town will change everything! Yes, I left Harlow out of the name. It will be similar to Church Langley being described as Lower Sawbridgeworth.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-10-20 15:16:44

It will be interesting to see if anyone from the Conservative Party responds to this article, the events of today show that the Tories are in disarray, having made policies and pledges on the hoof at both local and national level. The fact is, residents in Harlow were never consulted before the creation of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town. Thousands of homes will be built on the Green Belt around Harlow but Harlow Council will receive no long term financial benefit to help those of us who already live here and neither will Essex County Council because Harlow North is in Hertfordshire. The next stage of the development of our Town Centre is being debated next week, nearly 600 flats mostly in large tower blocks are on there way, but not a single affordable home let alone a Council one. The number of new residents in the district will far outnumber the number of jobs being created, that is why a new bus lane is going to be built from the Town Centre to Harlow North via the train station because most of the new residents will be commuting to London and elsewhere.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-10-24 09:11:21

Deafening silence from the Tories. Readers may presume that there are no benefits for Harlow residents then? The future of the Green Belt around Harlow is about to enter the final stage at Epping Forest DC who are about to begin a six week consultation exercise with it's residents. The Tory pledge to stop development on Harlow's borders has fallen on deaf ears. Council boundaries should have been changed so that the whole of the land within the Harlow and Gilston Town would have have come into Harlow so the future of this land was decided by Councillors in Harlow and not in Epping and Hertford as is the case now.

2022-10-29 21:37:10

I understand Cllr. Hardware is one of four Conservative Essex County Councillors and all four are also Harlow Ward Councillors. They all have a very poor reputation for not responding to residents - so don't expect any comment from them.

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