Fears that Harlow and Gilston Garden Town plans will “do nothing for Harlow”

News / Wed 1st Mar 2023 at 11:21am

SIX new housing estates/villages on the outskirts of Harlow have been given the go-ahead, despite fears 8,500 new homes will “do nothing” for the town’s existing residents reports the Local Democracy Reporter.

At a meeting which lasted more than seven hours, East Herts District Council’s planning committee greenlit the proposals, which form part of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town project.

Councillors heard on Tuesday, February 28 that the project should ease pressure on the housing market in Essex and Hertfordshire, and unlock new education, employment, leisure and health opportunities along the River Stort.

It is the largest planning application the district council has considered since it was formed in 1974.

The plans which the council approved means a minimum 23 per cent of the new homes must be affordable, far less than the 40 per cent target for large developments set out in an East Herts District Council policy.

This reduction is the result of an independent audit which found the scheme would be financially “unviable” if it was to feature so many affordable units.

Harlow resident Yasmin Gregory questioned whether residents of the town who are not already on the housing ladder will be able to afford new homes on former green belt.

She said: “I just don’t understand how building these homes on such beautiful woodland [is] going to help people.

“We talk about a homelessness crisis but 8,500 homes here is not going to put a dent in the housing waiting lists.

“We talk about affordable housing but that’s been reduced.”

In a 12-minute speech, Anthony Bickmore of the Hunsdon, Eastwick and Gilston Neighbourhood Plan Group said: “Housing and affordable housing provision was a core part of your case for the release of green belt in the ‘exceptional circumstances’ case made … in 2017.”

He warned 1,500 families which the council said needed affordable housing in 2017 will no longer have access to proposed homes in Gilston.

Mr Bickmore asked: “Why not explore cost savings now, especially given the escalating costs of heavy and unnecessary road infrastructure?

“Where will you find the affordable housing which you persuaded the inspector was such a strong local need that the largest release of English green belt had to be made?

“We recommend that affordable housing is prioritised over the construction of unaffordable roads.”

Labour councillor Carolyn Redfern (Hertford Sele) was one of two councillors who voted against the plans and said the reduction in affordable housing requirement is a “travesty”.

She said: “I’m very disappointed about the affordable housing and about the way wildlife has been an afterthought.

“The original Garden City Principles were built on creating green space for residents.

“This doesn’t do that, and it’s not fair to call these neighbourhoods villages when they will exist almost as an extension of Harlow.”

Alongside the 8,500 new homes, councillors have said land should be set aside for six primary schools and two secondary schools, up to 25,100 square metres of retail and leisure floorspace, up to 29,200 square metres of business or commercial floorspace, and new open spaces.

The final plan is set to include a seventh village, bringing the total number of new homes at Gilston to 10,000.

Councillors are set to consider this village separately and council officers faced questions about whether separating the application into “salami slices” could lead to a lack of joined-up thinking around what developers should contribute to the community.

Green Party councillor Ben Crystall (Hertford Bengeo) also voted against approving the plans at this stage.

He said: “We do need housing and elements of the design are good, such as aspirations to include sustainable transport corridors.

“But the Garden City Principles mean the town must be built around the people who are going to live there.

“It feels like this is driven by finance rather than community need.”

According to the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town vision, the project is a “major opportunity” to provide new shopping and workspace experiences for existing and future Essex and Hertfordshire residents.

Conservative councillor Ian Kemp (Ware St Mary’s) said the injection of homes into the market should ease pressure on a strained market, which he hopes could benefit residents.

“We have got some very difficult trade-offs to consider here,” he said.

“We would love to see 40 per cent affordable housing but an independent report says that is unviable if we are to get all of the other houses and infrastructure.”

Cllr Kemp added: “Look, if you have got 10 people competing for nine houses, the nine people with the most money will get houses and the poorest one is left out.

“If you build 10 houses, then everybody gets one and there is less tendency for people to miss out.”

A developer spokesperson told the meeting: “This is a forward-thinking, bold approach for the delivery of much-needed housing and improved infrastructure, continuing Hertfordshire’s long tradition of embracing Garden City principles.

“Just as the original garden cities were designed to bind the most important aspects of town and country, Gilston Park Estate is a unique opportunity to marry the two once more.

“Gilston Park Estate is landscape-led, which means each village is carefully sited and integrated to its surroundings having regard to existing biodiversity and heritage assets in nearby existing villages.”

He promised the development would be “sustainable” and will “deliver better outcomes for people in East Herts, Harlow and further afield”.

The exact design and layout for each new village will need to be considered by East Herts District Council at a later stage.

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37 Comments for Fears that Harlow and Gilston Garden Town plans will “do nothing for Harlow”:

2023-03-01 11:44:58

This is nothing but NIMBYism the hosues need to be built the young need houses and the boomers who have destroyed thois country need to understand that

geoff turner
2023-03-01 12:24:19

this will bring more traffic that the town cant cope with

2023-03-01 12:41:46

Well said Adam. This is absolutely nothing but NIMBYism. The most vocal NIMBYs who frequent these comments, conveniently forget that before they and their families moved into Harlow when it was first built, it was nothing but open fields and small villages. The residents at that time were also opposed to building thousands of new homes on their open green fields, and they too were against thousands of new wealthy, 'outsider' residents descending upon them. The current vocal NIMBYs enjoyed all the benefits of growing up in these new houses and estates, but now the process is repeating itself....they want to deny giving the same opportunities to new families? Their selfishness is truly staggering and deplorable.

Kim Oconnor
2023-03-01 13:46:08

Matt. People who moved here to Harlow, were Londoners who were bombed out during the war, theses people were not RICH. All so theses people contributed to the town, my father being one of them, who helped build it. This town was all so built with green spaces in mind.. If you knew any thing about the Gilston project s, you would know that this is truly green washing , and the deverstating consequences on wild life and Ecosystems. Theses housing estates have no benifts to Harlow . As new hall and church Langley have proved. All its bringing 20,000 more cars to Harlow, if you live here you would know that Harlow is grid locked now. It's not selfishness to put the residents of Harlow first, knowing we have 5OOO waiting on homes, theses new unaffordable housing estates were surpost to have 40% affordable housing, but after the meeting its down to 23% that's not helping the people here. People have the opportunity to move in and out of Harlow as they like, but you have to be able to afford it. This has nothing to offer except those that can afford it. And does nothing for LOCAL PEOPLE waiting on homes. Call it what you like, its there for all to see , the truth.

2023-03-01 14:11:22

This is madness. Is there any hope or means for this to get overturned in some way?

2023-03-01 14:13:09

Guess what is also truth Kim? Your dad helped build Harlow on open green fields, with devastating consequences on wildlife and the ecosystem at that time, the very thing you're demonising right now. However knowing your arguments, I'd imagine he was in the right, but someone else's dad building Gilston will be in the wrong no?

2023-03-01 14:32:28

It’s quite obvious what ‘affordable‘ housing is, who will be buying the 77% that is unaffordable?

2023-03-01 14:57:19

Kim, the people in Newhall and Church Langley of course contribute to the town. They bring money to the town as people spend it in the local economy. They pay council taxes which help the services in the town. I have lived in this town for 20 years, I have seen its decline under our local politicians of all parties. I love this town and have based my business here and employed people here. The reason we have 5000 on the waiting list is simple everyone agrees we need more houses they just want them built away from their house. We just need to build and guess what the country is mostly undeveloped so the loss of a few fields is not an issue. As for house prices, they are insane thanks to labours actions in the early 2000, the reality is housing and its price is set by what the bank is willing to lend for it. Get back to 3x Single salary and there will be pain but in the long term it will be much better and I say that as someone who owns also.

Kim Oconnor
2023-03-01 15:27:59

Matt, I'm afraid you have not read my point , the difference being the town was built with green belt in mind. They took into consideration the wildlife and conservation of the green belt. And quess what matt, it is some one else's dad indeed, and in years to come it will be some one else's dad, until we have nothing else left. There has to be a time where we say enough is enough. Adam. Where have I said church Langley and Newhall don't contribute to the town, or don't pay council tax, for that matter, of course they do , there in Harlow. But I'll tell you who won't pay council tax, the Gilston project s. Kim... no there is no chance s of savings our river stort valley. Its all finalised. Sadly. And as we drove to Herts Council office yesterday, I knew it was set in stone, because greed and profit overrules every time.

Nicholas Taylor
2023-03-01 15:28:13

Matt and Adam, the process is not repeating itself. When New Towns were being developed they brought huge new businesses and their staff from bombed out London in the 1950's, with industrial areas in parts of the town, well planned housing estates with areas where those who could afford to buy could and the rest of us had a new house that was rented from the Development Corporation. What is proposed now are so called villages built in the middle of a field which certainly won't be priced as ones in Harlow but at a massive premium because they are in Epping and Hertford. Not a single Council home and much less affordable homes than when the Planning Application was first sought. The need to use a car was hardly thought of in the 1950's, cycle tracks cross the town, are there any in Newhall or off Gilden Way? None of the taxes paid by the new residents will come to Harlow Council or indeed Essex County Council so no more money even to fix the towns roads. Nothing to do with being NIMBY, just common sense.

Mr Grumpy
2023-03-01 15:47:39

As the burying of greenbelt land has been approved by "the authorities" I no longer want to hear them whinging about littering/fly tipping. The latter can be cleaned up. It's not so easy to do the same with bricks and concrete !!!

2023-03-01 16:12:09

Matt and adam how ridiculousyour comments are. The building of harlow new town was not for greed but for london families bombed out during the war. Also the building of harlow bought many jobs and did not take up nearly all the green spaces and it did not become ove run with cars which parked on pavements and forced pedestrians into the roads, you are probably 2 people who have no idea about their surroundings bwcause u prob have your heads buried into your phones and then jump into your cars? Stupid comments.

2023-03-01 17:06:36

I fail to see the distinction between building private homes or council ones in environmental terms. Council houses built at Bushy Croft led to the destruction of a green field just as the private ones in Newhall are. By the logic of some people here, building 8,500 council homes at Gilston would be noble, but private is carnage. The environmental impacts are identical. The problem is that population is increasing and it is not distributed more equitably for a multitude of reasons. If more and more people are working remotely or on a hybrid basis, it logical that there will be flight from large conurbations. Life changes, just as it did after the War when lots of villages and hamlets were decimated by the establishment of new towns around London. One only needs to read the history to see the local opposition at the time. The same occurred with the creation of the GLC when huge chunks of Essex, Kent, Surrey were transferred to London.

2023-03-01 18:28:19

@ME So building these houses is not going to bring jobs to the local area or help local construction businesses. Building Harlow was exactly the same it is needed to house people. Do you think the people in the villages then consumed where happy, oh but its different right. The building of new towns is for those who need it also due to the growth in population of the UK. I cannot believe the NIMBYism which people are showing but I guess your all, alright jack. Bought your houses nice and cheap and bugger the next generations. Next you will be thinking you worked hard - you just rode the wave of the best 50 years this country would ever have and left nothing but debt, failing infrastructure and obligations to pay for your retirement to the next generations. I strongly encourage them stop paying for it.

2023-03-01 18:34:49

@ Kim you said it here quite clearly "Theses housing estates have no benifts to Harlow . As new hall and church Langley have proved"

2023-03-01 18:54:33

Everything about the planned development is all wrong. Reading through the comments on here, I am in disbelief that some people think it has the same principles as when the new Town was built. Taking up land, that no locals wanted to happen. It was a completely different situation when the new Town was built as it happened after London was bombed out during the War. This will not benefit Harlow Residents one bit, hardly anyone on the waiting list will get a sniff of the measly affordable housing quota that has been drastically reduced. And for the umpteenth time, I must say again, not a brick should be laid with any of the proposed new developments all around town, until our (promised) new Hospital is up and running. If Princess Alexandra cannot cope with the current population, how on earth will they be able to cope with the massive increase in population we will have. As for the wonderful new transport corridor. Do the planners really believe people will ditch their cars and use public transport to come into the town, given the abysmal service our current bus company provide?

2023-03-01 19:02:25

Madness. Harlow population in 7-8 years 115k or more

Kim Oconnor
2023-03-01 19:06:08

Adam. What I said was church Langley and Newhall, all were bringing new jobs... what happened, oh it didn't happened. Please read carefully. And it's the new housing estate s of the Gilston project s , that won't benefit Harlow.

2023-03-01 19:07:29

All driven by greedy rich people wanting to make a fast buck , not viable to have 40% affordable housing says it all really, just look at the rubbish that's sitting by the train station £1175 a month to rent a one bed flat.

2023-03-01 19:17:36

No Kim I said they were bringing new jobs quite clearly you stated "Theses housing estates have no benifts to Harlow . As new hall and church Langley have proved" They brought lots of new jobs to Harlow if only in the building. Reality is this building is necessary and it cannot be the case the council doing it = good, private people doing it = bad 20 years of ignoring the pressure on housing and watching the house prices go insane has caused so much damage to the UK

2023-03-01 23:22:28

The town has been ruined, move on.

Luke Burton
2023-03-02 08:30:31

It's not like you can make this town any worse, anyway.

2023-03-02 08:43:58

All will be using Harlow Hospital....as if A & E will cope with that increase. Profit always wins in the end.

2023-03-02 10:08:43

Whilst the Conservative party, government, county and district Councils and Councillors are so closely entwined with developers, the Party receiving massive donations and individual Councillors employed as property consultants this hggt pfp project is tainted by a corrupted system in favour of reckless development over public good, the environment and climate change. Harlow was skillfully designed with allowance for some expansion but not 10000 extra homes plus the other developments backed by hggt pfp and the Conservative councils. In short the particular housing being built is not needed. It's for people who will make substantial profits from selling homes they already have in London who will add to general overloading and pollution because they will commute into London 3 or 4 days a week. Gilston alone will trash the Stort Valley ecology and increase flooding and sewage discharges into Harlow whilst the traffic will gridlock the town. To think the residents of Gilston will literally cross the tracks to shop in the town centre is "pye" in the sky: Harlow is too common, they won't cross the county line but will go to Stortford or Hertford.! As was reported, clearly said by the Planning Committee, this project "will not benefit Harlow", it's for East Herts.

Kim Oconnor
2023-03-02 10:17:46

What ever your reason s, for being for or against theses builds. We can not forget that at the end of the day, this is a massive destruction and deverstating impact, not just for theses woodland s, and wildlife, and ecosystem, all around our wet lands. Where can you now have a long walk in Harlow with out hitting houses, the river stort is and was the only place. They talk of wellbeing, they talk the talk on many issues, and have lied to us on a good few things. While all the time taking the very thing that makes us better, OUR NATURE. It's pointless now any way, because this will go a head I'm very sad to say, despite the long fight to save it. Theses councils know full well theses Gilston housing estates have no benefits to Harlow, it will not do all the things, it said it will. It will not build schools. It will not build health care. It will not provide infrastructure. The list goes on, , until theses houses are all built. So people will be moving in, with no infrastructure in place, putting more and more pressure on Harlow, to accommodate this. This will be massive, the likes we have never seen before. It will bring. 20, 000 more cars. It will benift those who can afford it. It will destroy our river stort valley. Council tax, goes to Herts. It will bring more people in town spending, but will it trickle down to those who need it. The list goes on. When will it be time for them to stop this vandalism this massive rade on our nature, that future generations will not see. When it's gone it's gone for ever. I see trees being feiled up and down this country through theses massive builds, and I ask,, when will you see through the greed the money, when theses lands are gone. I'm glad I'm at the age I am, because I won't see it all . I feel a great hurt for theses tress, and wildlife, you carnt plant an old tree in a new place, you can plant new ones, but theses will not benefit us for at least 50 or more years, its the old ones we need now. We won't see the wildlife habitat along this river, they have all ready said we carnt save all. WHAT EVER YOUR REASON S, IF YOUR FOR OR AGAINST, THIS IS DESTRUCTION AT ITS BEST.

2023-03-02 10:57:16

NIMBYism, lol. Says it all about the people that put that.lol.

Iain Lindsay
2023-03-02 11:01:52

The planning for all the New Towns which were built began during the War Years as it became obvious that large parts of London were going to be flattened during the Blitz and people would have to be rehomed from parts of London which were already slum-like. Gibberd's plan for Harlow was very sympathetic to the existing countryside and fitted in well with the river valley, and provided plenty of green spaces for recreation. The town also attracted and had a large number of large companies to provide almost lifetimes employment with excellent pension provisions. Unfortunately, almost all of those companies are now gone. And the idea of providing vast shopping centres is farcical, given that high street shopping is in terminal decline.

Jennifer Steadman
2023-03-02 11:36:22

Matt & Adam- I can assure you that my objections are definitely not attributed to any kind of NIMBY!! My family came here from Dagenham, Kent & Romford so I appreciate that homes do need to be built. My own personal objections are simple- 1-Harlow does not currently have the infrastructure to cope with the amount of extra traffic the planners admitted would be coming into & through Harlow. 2- PAH cannot cope currently with the amount of extra patients it has to manage now & the plans for the new hospital seem to have gone very quiet on that front? 3-There will be no social housing for Harlow folks so wouldnt help the thousands on our waiting lists. 4- Affordable housing will only be 23% & not the recomended 40% 5- Entire badger sets are having to be disturbed & moved & other rare species & breeds disturbed. 6- The planners have admitted that the amount of homes built will be determined by the master plan so could extend beyond the 8,500. 7- The amenities such as schools, doctors etc will be built last thus putting extra pressure on Harlow, High Wych & Sawbo centres & schools. (Weve already seen this with Gilden Park & Harlowbury school which is still to be started) 8-The disruption in & around Gilston is set to continue for 20yrs (by the planners own admission!) Also, I am not hiding my replies behind a pseudonym, so why are you?

Julie Taylor
2023-03-02 12:01:40

NIMBYS let’s think about them for a moment. Used as an insult but actually NIMBYS are often the last line of defence our countryside and natural world has. They are people who care about and love their communities. They are bastions and protectors and very much here to stay.

2023-03-02 15:21:37

All these people moaning about new housing estates being built. If they did not build them , you would be moaning your offspring have nowhere to live.

2023-03-03 08:13:24

Turkey the fact that none of these Gilston estate houses could be afforded by anyone who isn't selling up from London is one you have missed. Also the effects of Gilston and other hggt pfp anf other developments (like cramming 16 story hi rise tower blocks of tiny flats in the town centre) will overload our town and the environment adding to the further decline of the town and exodus of our young from Harlow. (Now known as Stab City) The hggt pfp project simply dumps on Harlow whilst East Herts and Epping get government grants for meeting artificial housing targets. Our Council sold Harlow down the river.

2023-03-03 09:22:03

Nostradamus. You seem to be putting all Harlow residents in the same pot. How on earth do you know local people cannot afford these new properties

2023-03-03 09:33:12

Nostradamus. What is your beef about Londoners. This town was built on London ers in the fifties moving down here. As my parents did. Also change your moniker , it's too long😉

Kim Oconnor
2023-03-03 11:48:55

Turkey, you must be frends with Maureen. The same frame of mind. Why don't you use your real name.

2023-03-03 12:06:26

Kim. That is my real name. I have always hated Christ🎅

2023-03-03 12:28:07

Sorry Kim that should have read Christmas . I am not that bad.

2023-03-03 16:26:09

First rule of posting online is “never use your real name”. In fact most platforms advise this when you signup.

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