Harlow Council pulls off major deal to buy 172-home Burnt Mill development for local residents

News / Wed 13th Mar 2024 at 04:11pm

HARLOW Council is buying a large private residential development in the town in a move which will secure more Harlow homes for Harlow people. 

The council has exchanged contracts with developers Hollybrook to buy the high-profile development next to the Burnt Mill roundabout with the deal set to be completed in the coming days.

The development was subject to wide media reporting in December 2023 when it was reported that Newham Council were seeking to buy the development. However, Harlow Council has worked around the clock to stop that from happening and has instead moved to ensure that the new high-quality homes are available for Harlow residents.

The development includes 172 one- and two-bedroom apartments designed and constructed for private rental. The development also includes ground floor commercial space, 150 cycle racks and 142 residents parking spaces – 23 of which have electric vehicle charging points – and communal roof gardens.

The development was originally intended as a build-to-rent scheme, and this will remain the case.

All 172 homes will be available to anyone who lives in Harlow. Thirty percent of homes (52 apartments), which is three times more than the original planning approval, will be allocated to Harlow families on the Housing Needs Register at affordable rent levels (at least 20% below market rent). The purchase comes at a time when the council is overhauling the way it allocates and prioritises local housing for Harlow residents.

A further 120 homes will be available to Harlow residents at market rent levels. The council will also look at schemes to meet different housing needs of Harlow residents including the town’s NHS workers and other local key workers such as those working in education and policing and young professionals working from home or commuting into London.

The mix of affordable and market rents is based on a prudent financial model which makes the purchase financially sustainable and will ensure that repayment plans are met. 

The council has worked non-stop since the start of the year to find a way to buy this development. Councillor Dan Swords, Leader of Harlow Council, says the purchase puts the housing needs of Harlow residents first: 

“We have worked extremely hard to buy this private development for the benefit of Harlow residents. I’m sure most people from the town would have read or heard the news that Newham Council were working on a deal to buy this building. I said that we would do everything we could to block that deal and we have moved quickly to buy this development instead. This is all about putting the housing needs of Harlow residents first and standing up for our town. 

“This is an impressive and modern development, which has been built to a very high standard and is located on a key gateway in and out of Harlow. The original development was always intended for the rental market with just over 9% being affordable housing. We will be increasing the amount of affordable housing to 30% with those homes allocated to Harlow families on our Housing Needs Register with the rest being available for Harlow residents to rent.”  

The council took the formal decision to make a move for the development at its Special Cabinet and Council meetings held on 29 January. The decision had cross-party support on the council. 

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50 Comments for Harlow Council pulls off major deal to buy 172-home Burnt Mill development for local residents:

Nicholas Taylor
2024-03-13 16:26:02

Well credit where credit is due, this really is a good day for many people on the council's housing register who can look forward to securing a new home. There is one issue that needs further clarification, that is with regard to the 120 homes that will be let at market rents. Who and how is someone eligible for one of those, it sounds as though anyone can come forward to rent one, do they not need to meet the criteria of Harlow homes for Harlow people as described in the new allocation policy?

2024-03-13 16:43:59

Good job Dan, it is tremendous how much news went round town about this block being sold to London. Glad it's back in our hands for local people, particularly with the strain locally with demand for properties!

2024-03-13 17:06:22

Well done Dan and all those involved.

2024-03-13 17:13:06

Great news for the residents of Harlow

2024-03-13 17:16:47

Good News for a change saving a major embarrassment! Does anyone know How much is this costing? How is it financed? Will there be any money left from Essex Council to repair the repaired potholes? Well done Harlow Council

2024-03-13 17:27:33

Well done Dan and all the team great work for Harlow residents

2024-03-13 17:37:46

It looks like a prison from the 60s, but it's good news for the people of Harlow

2024-03-13 17:48:58

Brilliant Dan and all the tory team. Where are all the moaners now , I am deafened by the silence.

2024-03-13 17:51:52

Anything to say Chris Vince. Like well done. Or does it stick in your throat.

Bruce Downey
2024-03-13 18:03:55

Excellent news out of the blue, it’s good news all-round. Presumably gazumping Newham in the process.

View from Afar
2024-03-13 18:16:52

Good news for Harlow residents but how much did Harlow Council pay to buy this development? Will Robert Halfon try to take the credit and steal your thunder?

2024-03-13 18:32:12

Perhaps they could have bought even more homes for the homeless of Harlow if they didn't spend so much on buying the Harvey Centre. Perhaps they could have bought even more homes for the homeless of Harlow if there wasn't a future budget black hole. Perhaps they could have bought even more homes for the homeless of Harlow if they put in a bid before this development hit the news due to Newham's earlier interest. No doubt RH will take as much credit as he can while forgetting about the much promised hospital and crumbling state schools.

M Tew
2024-03-13 18:41:44

Credit where credit's due. Well done Harlow Council for securing the block for Harlow needs. Will those bidding for homes get priority over others seeking homes, however needy? RH probably had no hand in this! Local people should be happy with this result because we were wondering what sort of folk might be sent in from elsewhere, with potential social problems.

2024-03-13 18:56:05

Well that is good news

2024-03-13 19:09:28

Dan Swords showing real leadership. Saving us from Newham, definitely got my vote. Not too happy with the Government, but locally you and your team are delivering for Harlow. Stopping Newham is a first and a massive deal for the town. Well done!!

2024-03-13 20:46:26

Seems Newham did us a favour: would this have happened if they hadn't tried to buy the block to dump people there. A good result but can't but wonder if Newham hadn't embarrassed Harlow Council. Now, what about doing the same for lots more developments around the town to house our sons and daughters and families who can't get decent homes.

2024-03-13 20:54:43

Credit due, well done Councillor Swords and all those involved.

Chris Harper
2024-03-13 21:07:01

Is this a good deal financially or is it just a green light for future developers to hold the council to ransom? How much more have Harlow council paid above the market rate than the other council were willing to pay? Is this just a green light for future developers to hold Harlow to ransom if they start to negotiate with another London council and then raise the price for Harlow to step in again to stop another dumping ground for London's problem tenants ? All seems too cosy between Labour & Tories without enough questions being asked about the long term implications.

2024-03-13 21:37:08

I was very sceptical and pessimistic when I first heard of Newham. I thought that this will be Terminus House II. I did not believe that Cllr Dan Swords could intercede and stop it. I am delighted to have been proven wrong. This is wonderful news. All credit to the current administration for standing up for Harlow. For too long, we have been a dumping ground for London boroughs. This sends out a strong message that Harlow will defend its residents and town and will not be pushed around. We have an administration that has Harlow's back. Well done, Harlow Council👍

Peter Henegan
2024-03-13 21:58:00

Back in June, Dan Swords said this was a significant private development. Now it is significant council investment. I do hope it works out although am puzzled by the comment about NHS workers given the hospital is moving to J7a. I also wonder why the council just didn't buy the site and develop it themselves, presumably this would have been a far cheaper option. Perhaps there wasnt an election looming. So YH, please tell us the purchase cost and funding cost so we can decide if it really is a good deal

2024-03-13 23:06:51

I am often hard on our politicians, but this is a good move and Dan should be congratulated, this is the kind of thing councils should do. Not just the buying of the apartments but the swift and decisive action when needed.

2024-03-13 23:28:45

Don't understand what Cheryl is upset about. This is a fantastic move by Harlow Council. In the past, previous Councils have never faced down an 'invader' and instead have sought to negotiate and appease. As a result we have Terminus House and other properties being used as dumping grounds to the detriment of our town and people. At last we have a Council administration under Dan Swords' leadership that has real commitment and courage to do what is right by our town. We should all be very pleased with this outcome.

2024-03-13 23:46:59

Lol Molly. Lets see how many Harlow people that are on the Harlow council housing register get offered one of these flats and if they are affordable rents. I struggle to believe anything Dan Swords and the others say. Lets just see what happens. Lol. Yet another comment was deleted of mine and i do find that strange aswell. Lets just wait and see what happens with flats.

2024-03-14 06:59:39

Chris Harper, Peter Henegan, Cheryl. Are your glasses always half empty.

Kim Oconnor
2024-03-14 08:46:25

I'd like to know where the money has come from, was it cash bought, or a loan.. Dan swords.????? I will wait to see what actually happens here.

Kim Oconnor
2024-03-14 09:03:46

James Leppard, which brings me to my question, that you did not answer.. was this cash bought or was it a loan..if no secret s why don't you answer... ??? There's no need to keep putting one party up against another. Just answer a simple question please.

James Leppard
2024-03-14 09:26:40

Kim O'Connor, do you or any of your highly esteemed colleagues in the Green Party understand the concept of contractual 'confidentiality'? I have told you already that all will be revealed in due course. In the meantime, go and read up the meaning of confidentiality with regards to commercial agreements and also let us know if and when Jasmin Gregory is willing to participate in a democratic forum proposed by Cllr Dan Swords. Just answer a simple question please.

2024-03-14 09:50:37

I'm also a little sceptical about these properties being for Harlow residents. If they are I hope they are going to offer first & foremost the tenants of the demolition of sycamore Fields in Sumners flats which are unsafe to live in. These tenant's have lived on their nerves since being told & not knowing where they are going to go or what they are going to do as council have not really fully filled them in. Some private renting some council tenants, some bought. Some have lived there for 30 or more years. So even though Dan Swords has actually said this development that they have succured is for Harlow residents I hope he keeps to the words he has spoken & promised, but I do have to say "watch this space" because there are so many U turns of what Harlow Council say to what they actually do. Then they get it wrong & I have had first hand experience of that & it dragged out for over a year. It made my health go down hill. I really hope all of what Dan Swords has said comes true then I will then say well done Harlow Council I will also say this is not just Dan Swords taking all the praise as it's a team effort by all involved.

Peter Henegan
2024-03-14 10:37:21

Eddie, my glass is never half empty (bloody hard under the present govt). But from my commercial experience, when I read that the council has been working round the clock to prevent a deal with Newham happening I ask 1. Why wasnt this sorted much earlier and 2. Did the council have to pay over the odds. Perhaps the announcement should have waited until the full facts could be presented. And what reassurances do we have that the 122 flats to be rented at full rents will go to Harlow people. Will they be allowed to stand empty and be a drain on Harlow's finances or rented to anyone, inside or outside of the town Had Chris Vince announced this I am sure you would have been all over him for answers. You know I want the best for the people of Harlow, is this it?

William Warner
2024-03-14 11:06:45

All right if you gy the money for the rent I still warting for ground floor flat after 10y because of heart

David Forman
2024-03-14 12:33:25

Well done to our Conservative controlled council for securing these 172 homes.

James Gamble
2024-03-14 13:45:06

David Forman thank god it's an election year or the properties would not have been purchased. Why are only 50 of these properties affordable rent. 120 are higher rent and not based on Council house rates. Will somular properties be set at different rates and how is this right?Who will be responsible for the maintenance of these properties?

Nicholas Taylor
2024-03-14 13:56:31

Roy, Peter is right to raise a number of questions about financial aspects of the deal and the letting of these flats. For instance, have the council leased the block, or bought it outright with a loan? What rents will be charged, even affordable rents will be in excess of £1000 per month, compared with a council flat of about £400 per month? Most tenants from the waiting list will be on housing benefit, which has a cap put on it. Do the tenants have a secure tenancy just like other council tenants? What of those on the open market, will they be restricted to "Harlow Residents" which from April means applicants will have to have lived in the town for at least 7 years? As for those working in public services, unless there are certain tenancy agreements what is to stop them leaving public service the week after they get a flat. Cllr Leppard has indicated that more information will come to light in due course., it will be an interesting read.

G Von Haartman
2024-03-14 14:37:05

This is great news for the town well done to the council. I presume the collective rents on the property will help offset the expense of buying the building. At the very least it will not be another Terminus house.

Ritchi Smith
2024-03-14 15:33:31

Well done to all involved, I was sceptical about Dan Swords, so proving me wrong, he does seem to have a passion and enthusiasm to rejuvenate Harlow.

2024-03-14 15:44:57

This deal is such a positive game changer for Harlow. It was so important to stop the ongoing abuse by Newham and other London boroughs, exploiting Harlow's much lower property prices to dump their problem residents here. Just check out Newham on its website - We are hardly likely to get systems engineers, science teachers or concert pianists sent here are we? We know from Terminus House how this would have ended with any other Council Leader than Dan Swords. It is so reassuring to have someone who will not back down and stand his ground for our town. We have seen how previous administrations tried to 'negotiate' with other councils and for steamrolled, e.g. Terminus House. We need a Council that will not give up. Thankfully, we now have one.

2024-03-14 16:04:39

Peter Henegan. If Chris Vince had announced this I would have been amazed, as I would wonder if he was able to work the budget out . That's of course if he had a budget.

gary roberts
2024-03-14 16:43:21

Cllr. Leppard I do know what "contractual confidentiality" is and it has been used before by this council in respect of Osler House in Potter Street. It avoids the council giving full details of any major sale or purchase including the costings. As the residents' of this town will be liable in the medium to long term for the financial obligations of this council it should be open to all the details: shouldn't it Cllr. Leppard? It would be, for example, interesting to find out how long this "contractual confidentiality" is for? Who is responsible if in light of this deal the council has to issue a 114 notice? I suspect these and many more questions will not be fully answered any time soon.

2024-03-14 17:05:09

Nice one! Well done the Council. What are the whinging Labour lefties saying about that🤔🤔

Kim Oconnor
2024-03-14 19:01:45

Gary Roberts, do you think we will here before the election or after.. I think the latter. 😄

paul f
2024-03-14 19:07:27

nice one dan

2024-03-14 19:20:45

It seems the council cannot win . Your dammed if you do and your dammed if you don,t. All the whingers would have gone into overdrive if Newham had purchased the property and moved all their , shall we say safety overspill in. So when the council finally purchase the properties, the moaners and groaners , have to scrap the bottom of the barrel to find something so they can continue to complain about something. Bad lovers come to mind. I bet they would not complain if one of their family who was on the waiting list was offered one

2024-03-14 19:21:52

Oops bloody predictive text. Should say bad losers

Dan Long
2024-03-14 19:27:31

Yeah and these flats should be for Harlow residents who have been on the Harlow housing waiting list for 10 years plus not for those from outside of Harlow or even outside of the UK. Harlow homes for Harlow residents.

Peter Henegan
2024-03-14 19:38:35

Where did Roy's comment go? I see Nicholas Taylor has referred to it so I wasnt seeing things.

Peter Henegan
2024-03-14 20:13:07

Turkey, the big question for me, and others I think, is why was this apparently done as a last minute panic when back in the summer Dan was shown with his spade, and did this last minute panic push up the price. When we get to see the numbers we can a better assessment. I would also ask if it was mentioned in the recent budget meeting, presumably it will be a significant sum. The danger of course is that if the council has overpaid for this project then it could undermine the ability to fund other projects. I hope, of course, that it will prove to be a great deal for the town

Emma blakey
2024-03-15 00:06:54

Please let us in sycamore field have one we on the bidding list .. we have no where else to go ...

New HAP member
2024-03-16 10:04:30

Nicholas Taylor,huge respect.Been reading your comments in YH for sometime.Thank you for your obvious sincerity and using your considerable expertise to help people in Harlow.Wish HAP could unite with the Greens.

James Gamble
2024-03-16 10:48:29

This was a cross party decision, both parties supported this purchase. It is not often we see this so stop ditching the opposition.

James Leppard
2024-03-17 10:32:03

James Gamble, please see the post on YH by Chris Vince: https://www.yourharlow.com/2023/12/20/harlow-labours-chris-vince-lays-blame-at-tories-door-over-newham-council-bid-to-buy-172-flats/

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