Blogpost: The Garden Town is the next exciting evolution of Harlow’s journey
Politics / Mon 19th Dec 2022 at 02:18pm
COUNCILLOR Russell Perrin has been the Leader of Harlow Council since October 28, 2021. The Garden Town is the next exciting evolution of Harlow’s journey.
He recently spoke to the team at Harlow and Gilston Garden Town (HGGT) about the project.
Cllr Perrin said:
“Sir Frederick Gibberd didn’t want his design to remain static over the years, he always knew that Harlow would get bigger and would have to expand.
And now we’re seeing that with the plans for across Harlow and into East Herts with the Gilston development.
There are generations of people that live in Harlow that want to stay in and around the local area, but they don’t have the housing currently.
The Garden Town will bring that housing and, in doing so, it will make Harlow a sub-regional destination, taking us to the next level as a go to location.
One of our main ambitions as an administration was to step up the regeneration of the town centre and that has now begun. (On Dec 16, Harlow Council announced they had bought the Harvey Centre for £21m)
We’ve had to take into account that people aren’t just going to town centres for shopping, there’s a whole cultural dimension to these spaces now and retail is just a part of that.
We have to be a leisure destination as well, a base where people spend the evening and take in a film or go to the theatre.
And that’s what we centred our funding bids on and what we’re doing in terms of regenerating the town centre.
If you’re going to expand the town then you need high skilled jobs for the people that live here.
It started with my administration and partners a decade ago with the arrival of the Enterprise Zone.
Harlow wasn’t seen as being the front runner for any kind of inward investment at the time and far bigger people than myself made it happen.
But from a District Council’s point of view, I said we need to be putting ourselves forward for this and Kevin Bentley from Essex County Council was also a supporter along with the MP.
And now we’re part of the ever growing Innovation Corridor with London and Cambridge, a geographical location for international businesses, academics, start-ups, finance and law firms.
One of the things that Harlow has suffered from is that people start off their life in a very good family environment, children grow up, they go to university and when they come back, what high skilled jobs are there for them?
Where is the local housing that goes with the career that they now aspire to achieve?
It’s very few and far between currently.
The beauty of the Garden Town is providing opportunity for the next generation, weaving it into the growth of the Innovation Corridor and creating high-skilled jobs for people so that everything is hand in glove with each other.
We also have the UK Health Security Agency locating to Harlow which is another big move for the town.
Harlow has a very big future for itself and it’s an exciting time to be leading that.
The plans that have been put forward by the Garden Town are very well thought out, they consider space, green living and new public travel routes.
I’m really keen to see how we integrate everything with the existing cycle network of Harlow, the idea being that you should be able to go along cycle paths and never come into contact with traffic.
That’s the ambition because other cities and towns have tried to merge the bike with the car and it doesn’t work.
And it becomes very dangerous for all concerned and puts a lot of people off using their bike.
When we’ve got to the point where you don’t need to worry about coming face to face with cars then I think we’ve cracked it.
The Garden Town’s new public travel routes are the start of this process.
While active travel is big for the Garden Town, we don’t want to make the car the enemy.
When you’re moving outside of the town, the car is still the preferred mode of transport for many so we need to future proof the infrastructure.
Let’s make sure that we’re thinking about electric cars, making sure we’ve got the charging points.
We’re on the cusp of being able to roll out this kind of infrastructure, and future tech to the benefit of everyone locally.
We cannot deliver the Garden Town without the five council partners, working collaboratively on something of this scale is absolutely critical.
And all of those partners are united in that whatever is built has to be sustainable and not just row upon row upon row of houses.
As the title suggests, we are creating a Garden Town, spaces for people to breathe, to enjoy the outdoors, to enjoy nature.
And that’s what Sir Frederick Gibberd wanted when he designed Harlow all those years ago.
I would remind readers of three Tory pledges they made to the electorate before winning control of the Council in May 2021.They were, getting people to take pride in the estates where they live by amongst other things repairing roads, pledging to stop development to the West of Sumners and the building of a new hospital (which was due to open in 2025 but now seems it will be at least 2030 if at all). Harlow is not being expanded, all these thousands of new homes will not be in Harlow, the nearest ones at Gilston will be about a mile from any in Harlow and those to the South of the town will be in a few fields in the EFDC area. Not a single council home, no Council tax paid to HDC to improve services, one has to again pose the question, what will any of this do to help those living in Perry Spring, Brockles Mead, Canons Gate, indeed anyone who is already living in Harlow. Voting Labour next May will make no difference, they support these plans as well.
All very well pushing the Garden town plan (which won't help Harlow People waiting for an affordable home), but unless the (Promised) new Hospital is in place before a brick is laid, then it is a disaster waiting to happen. Add to this the new development planned by EFDC on the Latton Priory site and it's not hard to see that the planners have not thought about the consequences. The Princess Alexandra Hospital cannot cope as it is, but with all the new housing planned and more and more people needing access to Hospital services, the whole plan should be put on hold or scrapped altogether. Oh, and how about all the new housing planned for the town centre sites, and these I might add, do not help the people on the waiting list for a home, as they will not have any affordable housing in that plan either.
Dear oh dear , I just love the way you all keep referring to sir Frederick s plans for Harlow, You say, we don't want row upon row of houses, haha, no we are all ready seeing high rise unaffordable flats, blotting the landscape, that no one in Harlow can afford. You say you want people to injoy the out doors, and nature, 😂 don't make me laugh, theses housing estates will be built around our river, with a 4 lane road, connecting theses unaffordable estates. If that not destroying an complete Ecco systems I don't know what is.ripping up thousands of old trees, habitat s destroyed ect ect. This is not what sir Frederick would of wanted. Taking way the only PEACEFUL PLACE WE HAVE IN HARLOW, you all should be ashamed of your self's. You carnt build on swamp land, if this happens we will flood. And just to add, if you keep building unaffordable housing, and not council, this town will not improve, you have over 5OOO waiting for housing, people who can not afford, theses vanity project s. Your priority s are all wrong. People first profit second. People living with damp houses Guttering hasn't been cleaned for years. The list goes on. Windows and roofs need fixing. Pot holes are a absolute disgrace, and now Essex County Council, passing the buck back to you lot, does this mean we don't have to pay road tax to Essex cc. 😂 None of you know the need s of Harlow, you all make it up as you go along, none of you want to help when help is needed, you don't hear us, you don't see us. You won't get in again.
Sir Fred will be horrified at the assertions Cllrs make. Perhaps they should try reading his books on town design. Harlow was designed around the landscape and the two valleys and on principles: bending these or ignoring these has been mistake. It started when the M11 was built on the wrong side of town and having deliberately preserved the natural nature reserve around a rare and precious chalk stream (The Stort) it's pretty certain he would disapprove of the trashing of the same Valley with a raised road or moving the Hospital far outside of town and away from the bus and train stations. Harlow is deliberately low rise by design, building 16 to 20 story blocks of flats in the town centre and throwing cash at a failing shopping centre rather than using the distributive design model Sir Frederick pioneered is in no way following his principles. To imagine those living in hggt pfp Gilston Estate Executive homes will shop in a congested Harlow town centre is as PM Rishi Sunack says: Fairy tale economics.
Will Harlow benefit from ALL that Council Tax or will it go to neighbouring Councils. As they will be using our services.
David, not a penny comes to Harlow only the flooding from their sewage, surface water and very large volumes of pollution traffic. Harlow Cllrs were totally suckered by their tory mates from East Herts & Epping Councils and the property developers.
Councillor Perrin makes some very pertinent observations. To improve the quality of our town, we need a coherent, joined-up strategy. Past administrations have been largely reactive. Harlow needs to harness it significant strategic advantages to attract inward investment and high skilled jobs. He is right in stating that we have lost far too many of our best people through lack of opportunities locally. This has a highly detrimental impact on our economy and demographics. In order reverse this decline, concerted action is required to revamp the town centre so it becomes a regional hub for leisure offerings, good schools, new businesses attracting skilled and qualified people in well paid careers, apprenticeships and training to build a strong local labour force, a culture of enterprise and innovation. We need to start looking outwards and more broadly to see which other authorities have been successful. Anything less than this will equal failure and further decline.
Now now Perrin, I didn’t get to where I am today by spouting mealy mouthed sound bites without doing my homework!
James, the fact is that this is not an expansion of Harlow. Harlow Council will receive no financial benefit from the thousands of new residents living just over Harlow's border that would help the Council repay the loan they have just acquired. There is a second reason why the whole concept of the HGGT plan flies in the face of Gibberds plan for the town. There are plans to build about 16,000 homes in and around the town which means that at the very least and probably a lot more than this number people will be looking for a job. However the plan for the town and indeed the amount of vacant land available means that just a handful of thousands of jobs will be created at most, most not highly skilled at that. So many more people will be commuters, adding to traffic congestion, pollution and noise on our roads.