Consultation on development plans for north of town centre launched

News / Tue 16th May 2023 at 07:27am

PUBLIC views on the regeneration of the north end of Harlow town centre are being sought in a consultation on a draft development brief for the area.

The draft brief sets out several objectives for the north end of the town centre, which will guide redevelopment for the area around Stone Cross Square, Post Office Road and West Gate.

The purpose of the development brief is to inform potential developers and other interested parties of both the constraints and opportunities presented by each area concerned, and the types of development expected or encouraged by local planning policies. It will also be employed as a material consideration in determining any planning applications for the area along with other supporting documents.

The brief’s objectives are based on the principles of the Harlow Town Centre Masterplan Framework Supplementary Planning Document, which was adopted in March 2022, and include:

  • Creating an identity: Addressing the current imbalance of shoppers and visitors and bringing the area ‘back to life’.
  • Improving its appearance: Enhancing the area with public realm amenities, planting, buildings, and tackling unattractive service area and blank frontages.
  • Making better use of space: Re-purposing existing land and transforming vacant and under-used spaces for other purposes, particularly in and around Stone Cross Square.
  • Protecting important architectural values: Ensuring that features and details of the area as buildings and spaces are redeveloped retain the area’s new town heritage.
  • Improving pathways for pedestrians and cyclists: Creating safe, accessible and pleasant gateway entrances, removing cars where possible from the area and promoting public and sustainable transport.
  • A significantly greener area: Building on existing green space features and creating opportunities for play spaces, community spaces, public art and other forms of green infrastructure.

The draft development brief was approved for consultation by Councillor Michael Hardware, cabinet portfolio holder for regeneration and strategic growth. He said:

“It is so important that we ensure that all areas of the town centre receive the right sort of development in line with our overall masterplan. As we are all aware the north of the town centre is in serious need of regeneration, but it needs to be the right type of regeneration to give the town centre as a whole the balance it is presently lacking. It is an area with a great deal of potential and I was pleased to be able to approve this draft development brief. It will complement the other plans in place for the town centre for which around £40 million in funding has already been secured, such as the Playhouse Quarter and the upcoming bus station redevelopment. This is all about ensuring that all parts of the town centre are regenerated and that the standard is consistent.

“We now need to hear from residents, businesses and other interested parties and are putting the draft brief out for a four-week consultation. Your say will be integral in finalising the brief, to ensure that potential developers know where they stand in terms of the opportunities available in the area and what is acceptable to us.

“The consultation runs from today (15 May) to 9 June and I would encourage as many of you as possible to have your say.”

Information on how you can have your say can be found at www.harlow.gov.uk/your-council/have-your-say/consultations

Following the consultation, the brief will be subject to further discussion at Cabinet before it is finalised.


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25 Comments for Consultation on development plans for north of town centre launched:

Kim Oconnor
2023-05-16 10:15:15

Would you listen, would you hear us. Would it make a difference, what the public thought. My experience, nah this is all ready happening. But I will add, I think most people would love to see the return of a regular week market. Not pop up markets, a regular week day Market.

Michael Hardware
2023-05-16 10:31:09

Thanks Kim, yes, we do want to hear views and we will, of course, listen. Yes, a market would be good but I am not sure how sustainable it would be - people would need to use it and that is why it declined in the past. Happy to explore options.

Kim Oconnor
2023-05-16 10:53:22

It declined because the rents were to high. You could say the same thing about the posh shops you want to put there, will people be able to afford them. You ask most people in Harlow, I'll bet most people will want a return of a week day market, it would bring revenue in to the town. Now people go else where for a market. You want to hear us, there it is. Bring some character back to this town. We are fed up with excuses that mean nothing.

Joe E
2023-05-16 11:21:32

I’m slightly worried that we won’t get those revolutionary aspects that were originally proposed to completely transform the Town Centre and particularly that part of the town centre such as the: Open cinema A Thriving Market for tradespeople High end bars, pubs, restaurants, coffee shops. New modern facade for nearly all buildings in this part of town is also needed. Retain the historic clock and tiles but the rest of the facade of buildings around there need completely modernising including Market House. The buildings looks like a cheap secondary school built 40+ years ago. All of those things above + all the new natural play parks and areas for 12-18 year olds etc. green spaces etc. would help to completely transform that area if executed with high ambition. For example, a thriving market would need to have low pitch fees to attract quality traders/businesses. It would also need to be well marketed/promoted to rival effective markets such as North Wield. It would also need to be on Saturdays and Sundays so that people who work throughout the week could attend helping to increase footfall. A proper Outdoor Cinema has the chance to be one of its kind with nothing similar in nearby regions which would show ambition of Harlow to strive to be the best. Are all of those things above still on the plan of action? In addition to this, when you look at the forums, people young and old have suggested we need to attract: Zara Waterstones Lush M&S Footlocker Foot Asylum Bravissimo (the ladies were adamant on this!) Flying Tiger Disney Lego TGI Fridays IKEA (but not necessarily in the Town Centre – more anywhere in Harlow) Hope that helps Michael, but I cannot understate how the ambition needs to be high for this area with the Open Cinema, High-quality Market, High-end bars, pubs, restaurants, coffee shops + other Leisure and Hospitality + the facade of the buildings being transformed.

Luke Burton
2023-05-16 12:05:20

Knock the north of the town centre down and have a ruthless crackdown on crime in those areas. The area looks dated and there are so gangs that hang around that area - that's what makes it off-putting.

Luke Burton
2023-05-16 12:07:24

Installing a small, satellite police station in Market Square, ready to respond to gangs on bicycles and being anti-social would be a good start.

Jacqueline Saunders
2023-05-16 13:30:45

Harlow Town centre died when we lost M&S in my opinion there are too many coffee shops and cafes don't people eat at home anymore I don't know how families afford to eat out all the time , I do like to see nice shops opening up but they don't last its a shame but something has to be done to improve it .

2023-05-16 14:00:38

You should know it all down and put houses on top of it like you do with everything else. That'd be great.

2023-05-16 14:01:43


Sheila Warton
2023-05-16 14:10:32

Harlow council ruiened our town years ago now look at the dump and full of crime being our market back instead of wasting money on concrete tables and chairs for drunks and drug dealers to hang about! Also maybe refurbish Harvey centre so back dated it still looks the same as when my grandma was 40 she's 95 now! Maybe we could have alot more things for everyone to do too!

C dams
2023-05-16 15:38:42

I would like to see the Council have the bottle to serve a Compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) on the disused cinema housing all the pigeons, a real eyesore.

2023-05-16 16:15:03

M&S and high end shops are dead and they're never going to be resurrected in down town Harlow. How about putting back the ski slope, the advice centre, the velodrome, STEM Centre, running track and football stadium that were all lost while your at it add an ice rink. The high street is dead, concentrating shopping in the centre of town just creates congestion and pollution. As for the market Harlow Council destroyed a thriving market and has only had weak excuses to disguise it's incompetent management. Epping market never closed.

Tim Ward
2023-05-16 16:53:58

It needs a lot of persuasion to bring stores back to harlow but high end pubs restaurants is that really the answer how long have restaurants lasted upstairs in Harvey centre maybe an indoor market that would be secure for traders and managed right open all week

2023-05-16 16:54:53

It needs a lot of persuasion to bring stores back to harlow but high end pubs restaurants is that really the answer how long have restaurants lasted upstairs in Harvey centre maybe an indoor market that would be secure for traders and managed right open all week

2023-05-16 18:22:57

It'll be interesting to see if the 'tone' of the area changes once the housing goes up in the 'Little Walk - down to the old Superdec - down to Lloyd's Bank-back up to Little Walk' block is done - https://www.strawberrystar.com/projects/harlow-quarter-essex/. That's going to make a massive difference to the whole town centre and I can't imagine many of its residents will fancy living with drunks and other desirables on their doorstep. AFAIK, that development also includes the now demolished area next to the Odeon and it does look like there's some provision for shop units at the ground level but they're not going to be that big. With regards to shopping, as the council only owns The Rows and the old Advice Centre I imagine there's not going to be much in the way of refurbishing or knocking down available units such as those along Stone Cross and Birdcage Walk. You'd have to ask whoever owns those buildings if they fancy stumping up for modernisation and refurbing them. Read forums like those on Facebook and you'd think that the solution is just to put the market back in the square. I'm not convinced that'd actually work in practice but you never know unless you try. But all of that 'bring this or that back' isn't really what this consultation is about. The reason that the infamous flower pots, table tennis tables and random plantings have appeared is because that's all the council can really affect (we'll ignore the Playhouse 'quarter' development as that comes from a specific government grant. You can't just re-purpose that money for somewhere else in the town). I wonder just how many people will really be bothered to make reasonable suggestions.

Kim Oconnor
2023-05-16 19:30:48

Michael Hardware, I would take a walk around the town centre, and ask people ,if they would like there market back. Better than any consultation.. get out there and ask them.

2023-05-16 19:47:38

we need some good places to socialise, ,especially for the youth of the Town . How about doing something with the old BHS in The Harvey Centre for now, turn it into a foodhall for independent street food vendors ,have a bar in there and music events. djs,gigs ect. This type of thing goes on in most cities. Make use of empty spaces.You are missing a good opportunity . All the youngsters in this Town go out of Harlow every weekend for entertainment , We need some life put back into the Town. Its very dull

Richard S
2023-05-17 05:54:57

A market is a waste of time and effort as hardly anyone uses the market stalls on broadwalk when they are there. The only variation on that would be proper small units for food stalls like they have in Cambridge or Norwich

Kim Oconnor
2023-05-17 08:33:47

Richard s,,, we are not talking about the odd stall here and there, we are talking about a proper market, that we had years back,, we don't need pop up markets, we need our regular week day market. All types of traders. I know the people want this back.

Michael Hardware
2023-05-17 12:33:33

Thanks everyone for your comments, all very helpful, please do add them to the consultation just started so they can be taken fully into consideration. I would add that there is no lack of ambition and you may be in for a number of surprises over the coming year.

2023-05-17 17:46:56

Hope that there is actually going to be homes for council tenants not over priced homes to buy

2023-05-18 18:34:14

I agree with Owen... how about a bigger,better push on homes that people already in the town NEED. Stop with the bedsits and 1 bedroom places there's so many people in places like this that require more bedrooms!! And stop housing people from outside the town and making them a priority over the people who already live here and pay/contribute to the town! Also why not make a low rent indoor market in the former BHS ?!?

2023-05-18 20:49:32

Poundland is moving into the former BHS as far as the last bit of news I read this week, anyway. As for homes, the council has built some 'council housing' recently but it's a drop in the ocean compared to what's needed (thank the '80s right-to-buy for that). Alas, the best all these developments can offer (or what they can get away with) is a small percentage of 'affordable' housing which tends to be controlled by housing associations rather than the local council. Places like Terminus House aren't controlled by the council and they have no say in who goes in them.

Kim Oconnor
2023-05-19 09:41:24

Michael Hardware, you add it to consultation. That's what your here for. People are fed up with consultation where no one hears you. Thats a lesson conservatives could learn.

2023-11-16 03:21:15

Need new build shopping centre,harlow is big space to create best shopping area Harvey centre is look like 1900 century Street light is dim always night time feel we r moving in jungle,90% car drive high beem so its really difficult to drive at night

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