Harlow Council gives green light to plan aimed at securing hundreds of millions in investment funding

News / Mon 6th Nov 2023 at 02:45pm

HARLOW Council has endorsed a plan that will identify and secure millions of pounds of infrastructure and improvements needed in the town as part of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town (HGGT) development.

At last Thursday’s (2 November) Full Council meeting, the HGGT Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP), which will detail requirements to provide new schools, sustainable transport links, community and leisure facilities and open spaces as developments across the HGGT area take shape, received approval from Harlow. It will also include requirements for health and social care and emergency services, utilities and flood defences.

More than £1.3billion of infrastructure improvements are detailed in the plan, with £794m of that coming from HGGT developers.

The benefits for Harlow and the Garden Town area, which could be included in agreements (known as Section 106 agreements) from planning applications are:

  • A need for early years provision, up to 12 primary schools and up to 4 new secondary schools;
  • An approximately £299 million sustainable transport corridor network which will improve public transport across the HGGT area with a £29 million requirement for other active travel measures such as walk and cycleway improvements. There is £201 million to be invested in highway infrastructure such as upgrades to J7 (following the successful delivery of junction 7a of the M11), two Stort River crossings, local road network upgrades and accesses in Essex and Hertfordshire;
  • There will be approximately 1,675 square metres at East of Harlow for community halls. Within Harlow there is to be a proposed community leisure centre including a 6 lane 25 metre pool, teaching pool, 4-court sports hall, fitness suite. There will also be a new community sports hall containing 4 courts. At the East of Harlow allocation there will be a dedicated youth facility. There will be other contributions to enhance existing facilities subject to assessment; 
  • Upgrades to Harlow Town Park, and access to a new country park in Gilston, natural and semi-natural green space, amenity space and play areas at East of Harlow;
  • Town centre public realm improvements and new town centre transport interchange and hub;
  • Refurbishment of Harlow Town library with possible future expansion and relocation, and
  • Improvements to the Playhouse Theatre,  an extension to Harlow Museum and Harlow cultural trails.

Funding for healthcare provision required by the development of each new Garden Town site will be secured through s106 legal agreements before planning permission for that site is granted.  

The plan will be used as a basis for future strategic masterplanning and planning application discussions for developments within the HGGT area, ensuring that all infrastructure needs across the HGGT area are considered.

The IDP was first commissioned in 2019; since then, HGGT partners have updated their own local regeneration plans, including Harlow’s Town Centre Masperplan Framework which was approved in 2022. Moving forward, it is intended for the IDP to be reviewed at least every two years so that it can account for the needs of HGGT partners’ local plans as they continue to develop and the needs of local communities. 

It will now need to be endorsed by the other Garden Town partners – Epping Forest, East Herts, Essex and Herts County Councils – before being fully adopted.

Commenting on this milestone being reached, Councillor Michael Hardware, cabinet portfolio holder for economic development, said:

“We are working hard with our Garden Town partners to ensure that Harlow residents, businesses and community organisations get the maximum benefit from future growth. This council’s endorsement of this infrastructure delivery plan is another major step forward in the Garden Town journey, which also feeds heavily into delivering on our own priorities of restoring pride, securing investment, and rebuilding our town. Working with our Garden Town partners we have already secured millions of government investment to upgrade roads, cycle tracks and infrastructure. The plan includes many more millions of pounds in benefits we want for Harlow and that can be made possible through agreements with developers.

“Ensuring that all appropriate infrastructure is accounted for as the Garden Town comes to fruition is absolutely vital; not just for those who will come to the area to be a part of the growing community, it is going to be equally important for our existing residents, who will benefit greatly from improved transport links, more schools, more community facilities and more open spaces.

“The Garden Town is committed to providing our area with vital education, job opportunities, new community facilities as well as new homes. I am very happy to endorse this delivery plan and look forward to seeing it being fully adopted by our partners.”

Naisha Polaine, HGGT Director, added:

“The Garden Town’s five council partnership is committed to making Harlow & Gilston a fantastic place to live, work and play and integral to that is quality infrastructure that will not only serve existing residents but those that move here in future. 

“Last year’s Your Quality of Life project saw Harlow residents tells us that reliable public transport and preserving open space are key to creating successful communities.

“We’re ensuring that both feature in our infrastructure delivery plan with millions in investment that will benefit local residents.

“From new routes that will prioritise rapid bus transit and cycling/walking pathways to enhancing green areas, we’re delighted that Harlow Council have acknowledged this with their endorsement and look forward to the other four Garden Town council partners adopting our infrastructure plans in the weeks to come.”


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11 Comments for Harlow Council gives green light to plan aimed at securing hundreds of millions in investment funding:

Keith Elliot
2023-11-06 16:09:50

Cannot even build a school that can be used more talk.do not finish anything half the full of empty land dates they give just look at the old SKB site they would moving to 2024.not even started yet hospital still nothing.just finish something before you start this.if you ever will.

Kim Oconnor
2023-11-06 19:33:52

You have all failed badly in telling the people of Harlow town, how many affordable housing there was at the start of Gilston, how many we were promised, and how many there will actually be,, haven't you... the number of affordable has reduced significantly, how is this benefiting people, those that can afford theses monstrosity on our boarders that's who..... you all like to talk the talk on this,, making sound so great for Harlow people, Let me tell you now,, Harlow does not benift anything from this. No even council tax... All we will be getting is the destruction and disruption,, that other councils did not want on there door step..... And you failed dreadfully of tell people how many people are against theses monsters 7,000 from Harlow alone.

2023-11-06 19:42:12

This seems very positive although I understand the cynicism around this type of announcement. Fingers crossed I am around to see it when it happens, also that the holes will all have been filled in and the existing schools fixed before the new projects start.

2023-11-06 22:10:52

Well said

William Stanley
2023-11-06 23:22:25

It may come as no surprise that the local electorate do not trust such grand plans because they never seem to come to fruition. Also the funding and spending seem to be doubtfully short of normal efficient business practice. Qualis in EFDC is a typical conjob. Spending through the roof and a destruction of local service standards going unquestioned. I predict they will go bust like Woking and Croydon and all other over-ambitious borrowing and spending schemes thought up by greedy councillors.

Don't believe the hype
2023-11-07 06:07:06

Believe it when I see it

Nicholas Taylor
2023-11-07 08:37:26

You can tell an election is not to far off, more smoke and mirrors from the Tories, just like the promise of a new hospital and the move to Harlow by Public Health England. So take a look at the detail and see if the points being made in the article will affect or help those of us already living in the town. Well for a start, most if not all of the new schools will not be in Harlow, built to accommodate the thousands of children set to live in the 16000+ homes to be built just outside the towns boundaries. Then we have £230 million on building two river crossings, changes to junction 7 and cycle and walkways, all needed because tens of thousands of new occupants having to travel around the area. Money to upgrade the Town Park and create access to green space to the East of Harlow. A new bus station to replace the one built but never completed less than 20 years ago. Work to the Playhouse which will still leave it as the smallest theatre in the region. Refurbishing the library and possible relocation, when such work has only recently been completed. Lets not forget of course that most of this will involve building on the Green Belt around Harlow and in the case of land to the west of Katherines the destruction of commercial greenhouses. As to the need for affordable housing, well the target of 40% at Gilston has already been reduced by nearly half and we have recently been made aware that Harlow Council has had to take legal action to get developers to build the school and community facilities at Gilden Park.

David Forman
2023-11-07 09:36:06

Nicholas Taylor is correct with his observations. It is legislation that permits it. The National Planning Policy Framework 2012 brought in "permission in principle" that required councils to iron out objections to planning applications by negotiations with developers and use of Section 106 agreements. The sting in the tail is 'Viability assessments' which takes it starting point of 20 percent profit. This assessments often ignore that developers have overpaid for the land and are often accepted by councils because they can't afford the legal fees to challenge them. Any party, like Harlow Labour Party, who say they will ensure high levels of affordable housing or community facilities are spitting in the wind if Government does not remove 'Viability' from the law. See economist Liam Halligan's views: https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/2743/pdf/

Kim Oconnor
2023-11-07 09:38:48

I don't know what goes on in the minds of theses councilor s, especially our own in Harlow.... To sign and seal something knowing all house builds,will be built first, and all infrastructure second... If this isn't a recipe for a disaster I don't know what is... You all knew this would happen, you signed it knowing theses facts....And now your fighting for the change....You all knew the Gilston project s would not benefit Harlow.. How could you do this, how could you all do this to Harlow people.. we don't even get the council tax... How's this benefiting Harlow.... All we get is the destruction of the river stort valley, disruption and destruction, on a scale Harlow people have never seen before... And as for infrastructure, does a Cork fit in a pint glass... infrastructure first new builds second, then you know, they carnt go back on there word..which they have done all ready, with affordable housing.... theses private unaffordable housing estates are putting people in poverty.. there s no foresight into future generations.. no foresight .. of what's happening out there, this government theses councils, are only for greed and profit, and we desperately need needs before profit.. I know that most of you don't know Harlow, most of you don't even live here... Let me tell you, a lot of us are breed and born here, we know this river, we know how temperamental she can be, you build on theses wet lands, YOU WILL REAP WHAT YOU SOW... And all the amount of equipment you say that can stop theses floods, is just an illusion, it's fiction..

Barry Harten
2023-11-07 14:35:59

I want a new hospital on a new site with the extra capacity for the amount of people trying to access all departments . But service in and out. Then we can get a refurbs on the go. No more houses until the infrastructure of the town is upgraded.

Jamie Wall
2023-11-08 07:29:43

What's this about a second stort crossing?

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