Have your say on plans for major rebuild of Market Square

News / Tue 12th Mar 2024 at 08:55am

A CONSULTATION on plans to completely transform Market Square as part of the regeneration of Harlow Town centre is now live.

The rebuilding of Market Square will be unlike previous investments into the area and will instead for a major rebuild alongside further development coming forward to the buildings surrounding the square. The council’s Town Centre Masterplan identified the area as the town centre’s new hub for leisure and hospitality with a vision of new bars, restaurants, nightlife and other such offerings set to complement the plans.

To bring that vision to life, money secured from the government from the £23.7m Towns Fund will be used for the redevelopment, and plans have now been drawn up with options for what Market Square could look like. Harlow Council is now launching a consultation for residents and local businesses to have their say on the proposals.

The proposals include several new features not previously seen in the area, including an interactive water feature, useable green space, a rain garden, timber decking and a natural playground. There are also plans to make regular use of the space with opportunities for street trading and pop-up stalls, local markets, art displays and other events.

The proposals are part of the council’s regeneration programme which aim to put the heart back into Harlow town centre. Other schemes include improvements to Terminus Street, Broad Walk, the new Sustainable Transport Interchange and the Arts and Cultural Quarter in Playhouse Square.

Commenting on the proposals, Councillor Dan Swords, leader of Harlow Council, said:

“We want the Market Square area to become a bustling hub of activity once again. These radical changes are going to completely transform what has unfortunately been a neglected area of the town centre; there are things in these plans that have not been seen in the area before and will once again make the north end of the town centre a welcoming, pleasant place to go. With plenty of play area equipment, green space in which to relax and socialise and even a water feature, it will be a place that families will love to visit.

“The addition of stalls, markets, art and events will also encourage people to come back and enjoy the area. Our plan is to make this area the hub for leisure, hospitality and night-life in the town centre.

“I encourage as many residents and business owners as possible to take part in the consultation; whilst I think these proposals are fantastic and further deliver on our priorities to rebuild and restore pride in our town, we need your views too before we progress the project further. This scheme is one of many that we have secured funding for to truly transform Harlow town centre.”

To have your say, you can complete the online questionnaire which goes live on Monday 4 March. The consultation will run until May. There will also be opportunities for residents to visit the Discover Harlow Hub in the Harvey Centre to discuss the plans with members of the council’s Regeneration team. The hub is normally open on Thursdays from 11am to 2pm.

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34 Comments for Have your say on plans for major rebuild of Market Square:

2024-03-12 09:05:48

A market square should be home to markets

Peter Henegan
2024-03-12 09:16:43

May I suggest taking the plans into schools and colleges. The youngsters will be the ones making a success or otherwise of the project. Also, 3 hours once a week in the Harvey Centre doesnt seem an energetic way to engage residents, many of whom will be then

Nicholas Taylor
2024-03-12 09:18:54

So we had the market Square re-vamp which involved the infamous red pots, then some years later a re-surfacing of the square which included the table tables which we know cost over £250,000, then hundreds of thousands more on the re-surfacing of the paving which included some flower beds, none of which attracted more visitors to this side of the town and yet Councillor Swords is now proposing to spend a vast sum of money and a third re-vamp in the hope that more people will visit that side of the Town Centre. The fact is of course, virtually all the shops surrounding the area are already occupied, Market House has been derelict for many years and the area is frequented by many people who are often described as anti-social. The Harlow Alliance Party will again say that the only way this area should have been transformed was to create a Cultural Square here with a new larger theatre, live music venue and exhibition centre which would have brought far more visitors to the town and in particular this part of the Town Centre. HAP urges all residents to take part in this consultation and join with us to make your views known.

Dan Swords
2024-03-12 09:30:51

Nich, this is simply about the square itself. The buildings around the square form a separate scheme as I do agree entirely that the whole area needs fulsome regeneration not another Labour style lick of paint and ping pong tables! As the article states, this area will become the town centre’s new hub for leisure and hospitality with a vision of new bars, restaurants, nightlife and other such offerings set to complement the plans that is to say all buildings will be regenerated fully, not just the square itself.

Kim Oconnor
2024-03-12 10:25:18

Dan swords, you all ready know the people want a week day regular market. People have told you time and time again, not pop up market s, a regular week day market.. Bring some character back into town, don't make it look uninviting to people, by building a concrete mess. It's called market square for a reason. You want to bring people back to town ,start by listening... But your probably do what you want, usually do.

Michael Szpakowski
2024-03-12 10:39:42

bit off the wall, but how about a market?

2024-03-12 10:46:01

Personally I think you need to bring life back to that area, as it is after all a shopping area. Make that an area for shoppers to want to come to the town to shop. Starting with A Friday market. If you put in the effort traders will come. Just look at pitsea market it has brought so much life back to the shopping areas. Bringing new people and more revenue to the town. I would be happy to help

James Leppard
2024-03-12 11:07:22

It is definitely refreshing to have public engagement on this and to hear the various views and opinions. This administration is seriously committed to full scale Town Centre regeneration and has done significant necessary preparatory work: • Town Centre Masterplan to stop ad hoc developments and the divide the area into specific themed quarters. • Entered into a 50/50 strategic partnership with a major, successful regeneration developer • Gone from being a completely marginal town centre landowner to being the biggest with all the leverage that implies. • Has successfully secured substantial grant funding (not reliant on Council Tax or reserves) to undertake the planned works. This has all happened since 2021 and is in stark contrast to the previous Labour administration, whose decade long failure in regeneration left us with nothing more than outdoor table tennis slabs in the Market Square for use by drunks. The rest of the northern end of the Town Centre was abandoned by Harlow Labour to become reminiscent of a third world shanty town. This redevelopment and regeneration will be pivotal for our town and its residents. The widest possible public engagement is genuinely encouraged. We cannot risk Harlow Labour wrecking all the progress made. This is far too important.

Moribund the Burgermeister
2024-03-12 11:16:42

Moribund the Burgermeister Caught in the chaos in the market square I don't know what, I don't know why, but something's wrong down there ...

Kim Oconnor
2024-03-12 11:28:21

James Leppard, sounds like you've all ready made your minds up. With out consultation.

2024-03-12 11:29:16

There's absolutely no point spending money on this area until the surrounding buildings are either demolished or renovated. The area is so run down and filthy no one is going to want to spend time there other than the street drinkers and drug users/dealers who currently use it. Stop wasting money on the square itself and focus on bringing the so called developers to account who have left this area to rot.

Robert Johnson
2024-03-12 11:46:20

I'm sure the army of Clock House drunks will appreciate a new place to congregate. God knows what they'll deposit in the 'Splash Pad'. We've had ludicrous giant red plant pots, hideous parasols, redundant table tennis tables (do the council geniuses not know ping pong is an indoor game?) and now this. We used to have a thriving market in the square. Is it beyond the wit of man to bring that back by lowering the extortionate costs stall holders have to pay for a pitch?

James Leppard
2024-03-12 12:04:25

Kim O'Connor. I fail to see how you reach that conclusion. This administration wants residents to engage. We have run a shop in the Harvey Centre for people to see the plans, ask questions and leave their comments. Anyway, are the Greens going to participate in the proposed local election hustings? Will be a great opportunity for your party and leader to set out their vision and plans for Harlow.

Guy Flegman
2024-03-12 12:30:26

I think the whole are around market square should be turned into a soviet era eastern block theme park. All you would have to do is fence it off and let people in for free, but charge them to leave.Ha ha

2024-03-12 13:28:17

Harlow used to have a thriving market which was very popular not only with Harlow residents but shoppers from other towns. Bring back the market please.

Jason Gladwin
2024-03-12 13:38:03

Box Park - Wembley - Why not something along those lines Covered area with Bar area benches and seating. It could be used by market traders and then turned into a social area for sporting events, with your pop up food outlets and bars

Nicholas Taylor
2024-03-12 13:53:06

Dan, as I said in my earlier post, almost all the ground floor of the buildings surrounding the square are occupied already, but none of it is of the type which draws people into that area let alone the Town Centre as a whole, whether it be day or in the evening. It is not the square itself which is the problem, it is what surrounds it, with Market House being turned in to flats with another story on top you can imagine what it will be like with people hanging out washing and placing items on the balconies. There is a once in half a century chance to make a difference to Harlow Town Centre, you can tell from some of the comments on these pages what people think so far, don't waste it again.

2024-03-12 14:09:40

Drugs, drunks . Says it all really. Get rid of these before you ever think about a future for the market square. Then and only then is it worth having public engagement. I’ve left but Harlow town centre is sick and it makes me sad to walk through it.

2024-03-12 14:32:03

Have a roof covered market , the clue is in the name of the square. Entice the major shops back to Harlow ie M@S , John Lewis , etc. And have free parking.

Michael Boyd
2024-03-12 14:43:07

A couple of amusements will be nice and enjoyable if that’ll spruce up the community, Big Wheel (observation) one would be cool for Harlow?

2024-03-12 14:45:21

There is no reason at all to go to the market square - unless you want to frequent the drunks and druggies. Whilst a market would be good, I can't see it happening. Look at Petticoat Lane and Walthamstow markets. A few people wandering round at the few stalls mostly run by Asians. Put a big department store there to attract people.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-03-12 15:19:21

Just to add Dan, HAP have long said that Broadwalk should have been roofed over, leaving the buildings as they are but with all of the frontage modernised. Have you ever been to the Liberty Centre in Romford, once an outdoor shopping centre that was transformed when roofed and modernised in the early 2000's, and now frequented by millions of people each year? On the other hand have you ever been to Lowestoft High Street, where numerous attempts have been made to regenerate the area with new seating etc? Failed miserably.

2024-03-12 15:36:30

I can see right through Dan swords and the likes. Your words dont fool me. You already know what you are going to do,so please do not insult us by asking us to have a say on proposals.Harlow was a great town many years ago,but far to many people living here now,so no matter what you do,you will never restore pride in Harlow. To late Harlow has gone.

Richard Adams
2024-03-12 15:56:14

I would concur with Resident's remarks about only doing this at the same time as the overall development. Nobody is going to be attracted to it when it is in centre of a building site. You could then as suggested by Jason Gladwin roof the area over which would make it much more flexible. In fact before the fixed stalls were erected many years ago the Council investigated if a tent like structure could be placed over the square, suspended from the buildings. but the structural work required to the existing buildings ruled it out on cost. Another issue is the revenue cost of maintaining the area after it is built. It is no good building a lovely place which is then left to decline because the Council cannot afford to keep it maintained to a high standard.

David Forman
2024-03-12 16:12:32

Nice to see our Conservative council administration is getting on with the job of regenerating our town.

2024-03-12 17:50:43

David, to be fair, there's very little evidence of it actually happening, beyond flattening buildings. We've been promised improvements and regeneration over and over but nothing has actually happened

2024-03-12 20:02:06

Put a market in doors use the Harvey centre old BHS site with general stalls, craft and local businesses and world food stalls, then turn the market square into a go to night out destination with cafes bars and restaurants, however for this to succeed they need to have a zero tolerance approach to the drunks and drug dealers that currently think the town is theirs

2024-03-12 23:10:23

Pedro i like your ideas/ suggestions very much. Well said.

2024-03-12 23:34:27

this is what? the 3rd regen in 10 years? we has the little play area, now the coloured parasols, now a complete refit again... last I was told the NHS is failing. why waste money on this, that we all know wont be used at best and will be vandalised by clock house goers and others at worst , when we could invest it back into the NHS and actually get people appointments and help they need: we could even invest it into parks and outdoor activates so people have something to do like remaking the square!

2024-03-13 08:13:19

Another fancy designer space that will fail. Dan is too young to know and I guess older tory Councillors were from other towns or families that shopped in Stortford or Bluewater. Councillors are quite frankly deluded if they think that an online "consultation " website is effective or efficient, adding a paragraph asking what people want in the Council propaganda magazine with post paid tare out return page, might have helped or better still door to door consultation or they could just listen: ask virtually anyone, a vast majority of residents when asked "What do you want to see in The Market Square ?" have been shouting for decades the answer loud and clear "A THRIVING MARKET" : not flower beds that'll dry out and die, nor benches for daily drug dealers and reprobates or the alcoholics who need help. A market in an environment that could also be structured for outdoor concerts/ entertainment and street musicians, with pavement cafes and good quality shops is what will revitalise the area. Roof over Broadwalk, change the shopping experience and look at Romford. One of other best features of the town centre was Littlewalk: sadly demolished.

Chris BM
2024-03-13 08:20:19

I can see two main issues. 1, the council is limited as to what it can do short term without major long term costs. I.e. having a covered bar in the middle or what have you is a lovely idea, but then somebody has to become to landlord, maintain and run the structure. Look at the water gardens, this is a private management company who advertised, programme and maintain the space. This takes quite a workforce to maintain. I doubt highly that the council has this kind of resources available to dedicate to the area. The only real way to manage this is if the council leased the entire space to a private company, but this would likely not happen due to the private company wanting to own outright. 2nd issue for those suggesting a market, unfortunately there are several factors against this, the high pitch costs for traders, the abundance of supermarkets providing tasteless produce, however an apple is an apple to consumers. Most consumers would travel via car and rely on the free parking offered by supermarkets as a convenience which isn't found in the town centre, unless ironically you park at Sainsbury's and walk over. The shopping dynamics have changed vastly even since the early 2010 and even more so during the pandemic. I suppose you have to look and make comparison, walk through the ponds of the water gardens and walk through the market square. What do you observe as different? The green soft landscaping and seating with water feature... Then look at the plans for the market square to stay in context. On other notes regarding the hub in the town centre, might one raise questions to it's opening times? Thursday 11-2 or whatever it is. It feels almost insulting to those of us who have jobs and unable to attend to view the plans to be told, "but we've made them available". How do the counsellor's and council who have full time jobs feel about having to take time off to see these glossy plans? Do they see it as an inconvenience also?

2024-03-13 10:11:00

It will never happen, Dan Swords is much too young to know what this town is all about. Harlow used to be a town where people came to for all the little shops, cafés the MARKET twice a week , a good atmosphere all round where people met. Vinny's hot dog stool was super delicious, & The pub on the corner where the guys could have a beer. There was no fear of going to the town you felt safe. Harlow will never be that again with the druggies the drunks the knifes, the rapes, burglars, car theft etc & all the wrong sort of people moved into this town in the terminus flats from other towns. It's broken to a point of no return & I'm sorry but blaming labour isn't exactly correct because it has gone down further with conservatives over the years with their promises which are not lived up too. Wasted money. The money spent on this Town it should look like a little lake side shopping area but then again it would get vandalised with the roughs that live here & who don't appreciate or have pride of their town.

2024-03-13 11:07:19

There are so many comments here that I agree with: the very bad opening times of Harvey Centre's engagement with the residents. When I heard about a new Swimming pool and Gym being built in the Gilston development. I put it to the Gilston representative that for decades any survey in Harlow about sport always had at the top an Ice rink. He went to consult. The following week, he came back with, “It is too expensive to run; the cost of freezing the ice would be prohibitive”. He went on to say, “They could put a temporary one in the market square”. A “Bodge it and leg it” approach. Later, I did put it to the Harlow Council representatives; they came back with the same cost issue. I pointed out with solar panels the costs would come down, that the council faces the same costs with its Leisure Zone swimming pool. Their answer was that Harlow Council doesn’t own the Leisure Zone, which I found strange. I must have missed this, but now I’m confused; I found on YOUR HARLOW when a church wanted to rent the sports hall that Harlow Council refused permission. I’m not sure how a council can refuse permission for something it doesn’t own. In the past, the old SportsCenter was rented out to craft fairs and antique fairs; many towns still do this, and it used to bring in revenues of £2,000 to £3,000 per day in rent. Also, with Harlow Council representatives, I mentioned the failure to maintain the new flower beds around Market Square. All you are growing successfully are weeds. The instant response from the representative was: We are getting a team together to maintain them, very belatedly. The team will be needed in every shopping area in Harlow where the council has upgraded the shopping areas but then failed to maintain the planting, making it yet another “Bodge it and leg it” approach and yet another waste of money. Regarding the market, The vegetable stalls were a draw for me, but I always had to dodge the parking attendant who hid down the alleyway. Humping a 56lb bag of spuds back to any of the car parks was not on, so North Weald market was a much better experience, where you could drive round the back and load directly. So, for me, the old BHS store would not be a viable option unless they, the market, provided trolleys. People have mentioned covering the Broadwalk. It would not be possible as one of the levelling-up ministers has given permission to build on the shops. Around the town centre, planning is a mess. The best use of Market Square could have been to make it the new entertainment centre like it used to be. As far as I know, the old Bird Cadge / Highwire is still owned by Harlow Council so that would be the music side covered, plus a new 2,000 to 2500 seated Playhouse would attract much larger productions. Everyone must remember we are supposed to be building for the future of Harlow; nothing the current Harlow Council is proposing with its current proposals is for tomorrow, just the past. The current Playhouse has 404 seats built for 60,000 people. If all of the expansion projects go ahead, the population will rise to around 250,000.

James Gamble
2024-03-14 11:11:56

They should re-name it. May I suggest Annual Square as it is altered nearly every year.

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