Gilden Park: Housebuilders agree to speed up delivery of community facilities following legal action by Harlow Council

News / Tue 24th Oct 2023 at 08:45am

A CONSORTIUM of housebuilders has committed to new timescales for the delivery of outstanding community facilities at Gilden Park after legal action was activated by Harlow Council.  

The council has been in ongoing discussions with Barrett Homes (BDW Trading Limited), Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey over the delivery of a sports pavilion and pitches, allotments, community centre and retail units in accordance with the planning obligations relating to the Gilden Park development (known as a Section 106 agreement).

Photo by Brian Thomas Photography

The consortium’s commitment comes after the council had filed injunction papers in July with a court hearing set for this month. The council’s injunction sought to stop Gilden Park developers selling more houses until obligations were met or a suitable undertaking to provide the outstanding obligations was given to the court and the council.

New timescales for the delivery of the facilities have been submitted by the consortium. Failure to adhere to the timescales will breach the injunction. The consortium has agreed to:

  • Submit an Open Space Scheme and Community Specification by 30 September 2023 – these were both received by the council on time. 
  • Provide sports pitches provision by 31 December 2024 – pitches formed and seeding to take place during October 2023, following which pitches will take 12 months to establish.
  • Provide allotments by 31 October 2023 and provide storage facilities by 31 March 2024 – the consortium reports that these works are essentially completed, with surrounding planting being implemented at present. 
  • Transfer allotments management to Harlow Allotment Association or Residents Association by 31 March 2024 – this is expected to be completed in advance of stated deadline. 

The consortium has also agreed to provide a community building by December 2024. The consortium intends to let contracts for the sports pavilion and community building jointly. Retail units will be provided by December 2025. In the meantime, a planning application for a temporary pop-up shop has been submitted to the council. The application seeks permission for a period of two years to tie in with a programme for construction of retail units. 

The action which the council has taken follows two years of discussions with the consortium over the non-delivery of the community facilities. 

Councillor Michael Hardware, portfolio holder for economic development, has welcomed the new timescales but has warned that the council won’t hesitate in taking further injunctive action if there are any breaches, he said:

“Back in July we took an unprecedented move in applying for an injunction to stop more houses being sold in Gilden Park. It is believed to be the first time a council has publicly announced such drastic action, which is rarely taken. This action not only made the Gilden Park consortium sit up and listen, but it has also sent out a strong message to housebuilders across the country. 

“The Gilden Park residents have been challenging the consortium for many years to address the lack of progress on community infrastructure. Our action has always been about standing up for Gilden Park residents who have been let down and failed with no local facilities to enjoy. Thanks to the persistence of residents and our legal action, we now have clarity on when these much-needed community facilities will be provided. But we will be keeping a close eye on every single part of the implementation, and we will not hesitate to take further action if there are any breaches.” 

A spokesperson for the Gilden Park consortium said: “We remain fully committed to delivering the communal facilities for residents and have been in regular and positive discussions with Harlow District Council in order to facilitate this.

“We acknowledge that there have been delays and are very sorry that the community facilities at the development are not all yet complete.

“We remain eager to work with the council so that we can deliver all the facilities as quickly as possible. Progress is being made as we have already met several of the obligations that were recently agreed with Harlow Council.”

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11 Comments for Gilden Park: Housebuilders agree to speed up delivery of community facilities following legal action by Harlow Council:

Save Harlow
2023-10-24 09:33:44

This is an excellent move by Harlow Council. Can they now look back and tackle the shortfall and errors in provisions by developers and Essex Council on Church Langley and Newhall? In the 1990s residents of Church Langley had to campaign to get Essex Council to provide the primary schools, despite warnings once built they were found to be too small and immediately temporary classrooms had to be erected! At least the schools got built but the much needed Sports Pavilion on the playing field serving Church Langley and New Hall never did. (and the changing rooms in the church building were turned into store rooms). A good pavilion is still needed. Church Langley never got the library promised by the Church Langley plan, there's still a bare plot of land near the health centre. The roundabouts on Kiln Lane were and remain too fast (too narrow so drivers speed and race) so please widen them.: require the developers to bring all of the alleyways up to a standard so the Council can take them over (currently many are up for sale- ridiculous). There's houses in CL today in grave danger of suffering subsidence because the land drainage wasn't thought through! In New Hall sort out parking especially around the Co op and New Ground Cafe ( in Cambridge they made underground car parking and more provision for cyclists). And in order to stop the traffic overload East side of town, to protect the chalk stream habitat (Stort River Valley).and environment to reduce the high risk of flooding in Harlow, scrap the Eastern raised road Crossing and run a less ecologically route between Harlow and Sawbridgeworth from Gilston estate to the M11. Congratulations to Harlow Council for waking up and getting action in Gilden Park but there's still much that needs to be done not least stopping developments in the border "Harlow (Epping) north east as the current administration promised so to do in local elections.

Save Harlow
2023-10-24 09:36:45

Correction "run a less ecologically damaging route between Harlow and Sawbridgeworth from Gilston estate to the M11."

Sarmad Mushtaq
2023-10-24 14:11:59

Good news

2023-10-24 15:30:53

Surely they will agree this to continue selling houses, but then still not go ahead with their promises when time comes in 2024.

Yasmin Gregory - Green Party candidate for Old Harlow
2023-10-24 15:56:16

Could Harlow Council confirm if the injunction was granted or merely applied for. The Planning officer was unable to comment at a public meeting earlier this month. Unless it has been granted, the consortium can go back on their word, which is not unheard of.

Dan Swords
2023-10-24 16:04:54

Hi Yasmin, the article states it here: "Failure to adhere to the timescales will breach the injunction."

2023-10-24 16:59:30

In reply to Save Harlow's comment. You have it spot on about the land drainage in Church Langley. Years ago before any houses were built, the developers and planners were warned about building on an area that has a lot of underground springs. But like developers do, they never listened to the warnings, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. Not sure about New Hall, but the plan to build on the flood plains, in the HGGT big plan is another place where the same thing is likely to happen, but do the planners and developers listen? Not a chance.

2023-10-24 19:16:00

That’s a good start. Now how about doing the same thing until we get the new Harlowbury school that was promised?

2023-10-25 13:29:07

Lets just keep on building until we have no beautiful nature left. Nothing good is ever going to come out of all this. What a mess and a total disaster. I used to love my Hometown,the town where i was born 60 years ago,but in recent years i have come to hate it. It ferls so claustraphobic here now and its vile.

Kim Oconnor
2023-10-25 18:27:28

We will see won't we. But you did know that all houses would be built first, when you sighed and sealed it.

2023-10-25 20:58:04

Concentrate on the older housing estates in Harlow and bloody sort the pavements,cyclepaths,overgrown trees and bushes and the horrendous parking situation out. The older housing estates have been well and truly forgotten about and we are all entitled to a decent quality of life.I have reported one area of paving slqbs twice now and they have actually been in the state that that they are in for a few years,shocking what an absolute disgrace. I am sick of hearing about regeneration,the town will never look as good as it used to but at least concentrate on the older estates and not just the newbuilds.

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