Harlow Council issue stern warning as problems on derelict town centre site continue

News / Sat 6th Apr 2024 at 11:19am

HARLOW Council has issued a statement over the ongoing problems at the part of the town owned by the Strawberry Star group.

Strawberry Star has planning permission to develop a large part of the town centre.

But after they demolished the West Gate, in November 2022, there has been very little development.

But the main area of concern is the block next to the old Little Walk.

There appears to be daily reports of what is called anti-social behaviour. The fire last week was described by one concerned party as the “tip of the iceberg”.

Although many shops have vacated the area, those that remain and those adjoining have expressed a number of concerns.

Little Walk: June 2022

YH understands that Strawberry Star has until 2027 to start building and many wonder what form of sanction can be put in place, if they don’t.

You get the distinct feeling that Harlow Council’s patience is wearing thin.

A Harlow Council spokesperson said: “We are aware of the ongoing issues at the Strawberry Star site and alongside other agencies we continue to raise concerns with the owner on a regular basis, requesting robust measures be put in place to secure the site immediately.

“We understand residents’ concerns and can assure that the council is investigating all options to resolve the ongoing issues.”

Back in 2023, YH spoke to Strawberry Star and asked them why construction work was not taking place.

A spokesperson for Strawberry Star said: 

“Thank you for reaching out regarding the construction project at Harlow. We appreciate your concern and would like to assure you that we are committed to commencing the project as soon as practically possible. 

“However, it is important to acknowledge that the construction industry is currently facing significant challenges, resulting in delays across the country. We are working to mitigate these challenges and appreciate the patience and understanding of the local community during this time.

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26 Comments for Harlow Council issue stern warning as problems on derelict town centre site continue:

2024-04-06 11:29:52

So strawberry star did not think about reaching out to Harlow council or anyone to explain why they had not continued with works in Harlow Town Centre?

peter henegan
2024-04-06 11:38:26

The govt have been abysmal with stuff like this. 14 years in power and "developers" can demolish without any apparent intent. A govt with balls would be able to set a time line and if nothing happened the developer would forfeit their property. A "stern" warning-yeah, another 3 years to do something sounds pretty stern. Its not just the reported site, there are also the bomb site aka The Square and The Stow , and of course the former GSK site doing absolutely nothing for our town. I should also mention, again, the Sydenham House building which is mostly empty. Why? Hope it gets raised at the forthcoming hustings notwithstanding local councils probably have little power.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-04-06 13:51:54

Dan and James, why have Harlow Council not taken action to make this building safe? In the distant past many cases like this were dealt with by the council. Then send the bill to Strawberry Star.

2024-04-06 14:40:45

Very little development ? Do you mean none ? If they can't develop it they should be forced to sell it back to the council at a minimal amount, or made to make the buildings safe and less of an eyesore. Little walk was a clear red flag long before this lot got involved. It's just a mess.

Jean P
2024-04-06 14:57:36

Agree with above comment. Can’t believe Strawberry Star are being given so much time. They were asking for folk to pay deposits on accommodation off-plan in their new buildings several years ago. Wonder how many folk did so? For me it was a red flag from the beginning, they obviously couldn’t afford to build what they promised! Come on Harlow Council Strawberry Star should forfeit their right to build and let’s get our town centre re-built! 3 years on top of the time they have had is 3 years too many.

Philip John Marriott
2024-04-06 16:01:49

Although I have not lived in Harlow for more than 40 years, and although visiting occasionally, I have watched the town with interest. While many town centres are degenerating, the High seems exceptional. I wish the town well with its hopeful redevelopment.

Tim Ward
2024-04-06 17:33:41

Seems to me strawberry star were the cheapest because that's what harlow council use and as usual cheapest ain't the best get rid of them and use a compent builder amazing how builders can build all the flats down near the station in a reasonable time but strawberry star can't do nothing get rid

Gary sad
2024-04-06 17:33:49

Having been born in epping hospital princess A H Was not built.We the so called second generation grew up in the town. My farther a manual worker from Enfield the first generation helped build the old swimming.and hughs tower .myself and 4 brothers lived in the Dashes. I Can still smell the new woodfencing around the houses. In those days we went to the Dashes football area they had a hall duringscholl holidays We had a free summer youth club we loved it. We allso went to Sunday school to a church south of the 5 shops as we called them next to the Garden tiger P H We would be allowed to go to the Gtiger off licence to buy items giving us our independence. We also went to the five shops to buy Badic items on our own we was aged 6.The area had its own community we all felt safe each area had 2 police houses built the police children went to the same school we did not have any trouble we had respect Christian songs sang at school Broadfields corporal punishment was regular handed out to us for droping a carrot or walking on the flower beds Do I regret this No It taught me respect we moved to nothbrooks near the club in a ground floor flat given to us by the council it took us 2 years to get it We then moved to St John's avenue Old harlow we had 3 children that went to local schools we moved out when the children reached the age of 12 our age of 25. My memories are of great times at the fair in the Stow area and town park also spurriers cafe the golf course water Gardens etc and pets corner animals all free.yes we was young we did learn right from wrong.we even hooped on the 339 green coach to epping underground std after buying a twin rover to travel on all buses and trains includes underground spending the day at the science museum O Our Own what was our age?........10 years now 50 years on I still come back to harlow and I cannot believe what the councillors Have done to the town I am aware that the new town funding stopped I am aware that various nationallities have moved in and we must share. Yes I am disgusted why harlow build a second shopping centre that has always been a discrase and seperate from the the town centre yes a town always has a centre . A clock to meet uder a market a buzz a community. Now it is not working the Hospital is a Discrase. The town park is non existing shops are in dereliction a disgrace. I am pleased we had the great times growing up in the town The multicultural diversions are not working closure of businesses.tower blocks sold by the council to london boroghs as the town cannot afford to house its own homeless young as we had been. Our statues sold off.We are pleased we moved 38 years ago its so so sad and a disaster for the communities that live in harlow how many people speak to neighbors? Who knows of the three green hills or the maypole Not many .... GA

2024-04-06 18:38:18

Harlow was once a lovely town to raise a family in. Plenty for children to do . The town was kept nice . Roads were maintained, Not anymore. The town centre is very poor for choice. Loads of food outlets and empty shops. We have lost the best shops like M&S . There used to be play centres for the children in the summer , which helped working parents and gave children somewhere to go and have fun. There is nothing for youngsters to do in this town anymore There is little to no chance of our children getting council housing. The roads are full of potholes the size of craters. They expect your cars to be road worthy but the roads are not. The money that was wasted on stupid red pots for trees and concrete table tennis tables . Really !? Who's brainwave idea was that!? Is this really the best they can come up with ? Now strawberry star have till 2027. I question the intelligence of those running this town or should I say the lack of it !

Nick Gunning
2024-04-06 18:59:44

The example is Battersea Power Station- kept derelict for newly 30 years while the value of the land soars. No interest in serving the community, simply maximising profits. Local politicians collude with this abuse. A cynical person might suggest there's some financial chicanery too

2024-04-06 19:18:47

Council needs to go back to the Gibberd drawing board and philosophy, produce it's own low rise developments, keep PAH where it is and then with government legislation to prevent or heavily tax land banking delays from developers penalise Strawberry Star so much so they sell back the land to the Council; alternatively compulsorily buy back the sites. They were quick to demolish this should have been prevented and the premises kept in operation.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-04-06 19:36:49

In fairness I believe the Council have never owned any buildings in the Town Centre other than the old Town Hall. All the buildings are in private ownership, sold by the Harlow Development Corporation decades ago. We have a Conservative Council which sees the future of the Town Centre consisting of many huge tower blocks, which developers know will make them a fortune. The Council should have gone the low rise way, easier for developers to raise the money to get on and build.

2024-04-06 20:16:52

Very upsetting to see the state of Harlow today. Harlow is ruined forever,there are far to many homes being built in the town and vile high rise blocks of flats. The town is not big enough for all these new homes everywhere and it is all fast becoming claustraphobic and feeling very closed in. Privacy is becoming a thing of the past aswell,the town is just not big enough for so many more homes and people and vehicles. Very very sad all of what has happened to Harlow,to take a great town and turn it into the hellhole that it is today is criminal.

Chris J
2024-04-07 01:07:41

my issue with these kinds of plans are the time frames given. 2022 to 2027 to start, building.... start. not finish, start... 5 years. that's a long time to start. it should be finished in that time. inflation and planning restrictions can change wildly in that time making it almost impossible to get anything done. say you have 1mill MAX in 2022 to finish 1 building and the costs come to 999,254.23 at the time. now with inflation in 2024 you would need 1,086,729.66 for the max. that's not taking into account the cost of the goods and service itself change just eh amount needed. if the company doesn't give you that extra then you have to cut corners to get it done and that leads to Grenfell.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-04-07 07:17:20

It's a wonder that someone has not invited the BBC and ITV news services down to take a look and invite Strawberry Star to comment.

Kim Oconnor
2024-04-07 07:53:55

There needs to be great changes in law, for theses developer's, there sitting on lands,making a profit while our town looks like the desert. Developer's getting there own way for far to long.. This council say all the time, we are getting this that and nothing materialised.. unless this changes it will continue.

2024-04-07 08:27:38

The town needs to be completely destroyed and start again....most parts are empty anyway... Next to no progress on anything apart from water gardens.... We have a market square with no market?!? The council are an Absolute joke

Sarah flowers
2024-04-07 08:58:25

A stern warning is not enough to protect the public and last remaining tenants of this site. The buildings on this site are all open and daily used by locals for drug deals, vandalism and now kids are using it as a playground. The buildings are dangerous and someone will get seriously hurt if not secured properly. There has been a serious assault on the site, many fires the one last week caused 4 fire engines and police to be called to extinguish wasting valuable local resources. As one of the last tenants in this block of buildingswe have 18 months left on our tenancy so there will be no development to this site for a while yet so the council and emergency services NEED to take action against Strawberry Star to ensure the safety of everyone.

2024-04-07 08:59:47

The town centre ant the same any more I find it a uneasy, scary place to go to shop. And some parts are worse a lot of drunken people that make you feel very uncomfortable.

Keith Elliott
2024-04-07 09:00:28

They care about one think share holders not Harlow same old square site and now back of stow shopping centre and as for so called science park Hospital for get it look like old one got fall right down first.

Keith Elliot
2024-04-07 09:05:49

Harlow Council spokesperson said: “We are aware..all Torys say that but AWARE IS NOT doing something eight years now like being away we still do still have the new toilets in Greyhound/car visit centre four years now being aware means nothing.

2024-04-07 09:49:09

Water gardens always look nice and they looked lovely last christmas,lol. What a contrast to the rest of Harlow. Its obvious why that area is always tip top.Harlow has become a right sh**hole,the place is filthy and broken. Harlow must surely be the worst town in Essex,or the uk.

Sean Mcmenamin
2024-04-07 13:01:39

You need to deselect your mp Robert halfon as he is in bed with strawberry star ceo as he big donated to the torie party but the fools in Harlow will vote the same idiots back in tomorrow if there was a general election when are you all going to wake up and see your all being played for fools

Mrs Jennifer Riley
2024-04-07 16:26:17

It would be nice if we could have community spaces or places, for adults, children and teenagers. No social clubs, or playschemes. More things for us to do please.

2024-04-07 16:28:25

Gary Sad . Its as if you were describing my youth , you are completely right in all what you say . I lived in Great Plumtree and went to Glebelands playsceme. We played football against The Dashes. Got into fisty cuffs but no one got hurt. I remember The Stow being the main shopping centre. The kids have got nothing like that now. Great times , thank you for jogging my memory . So much better than slagging one another off. Perhaps all the local parties should listen to us older more experienced ones.

David Forman
2024-04-08 23:23:47

The National Planning Policy Framework needs amending to impose council tax on unbuilt properties two years on from receiving planning permission. The council tax then doubles in year 4 and triples in year 5. Economist Liam Halligan stated to a parliamentary committee in 2020: "Between 2010 and 2017, based on calculations I did for (book) Home Truths, 1,943,125 new permissions were granted in England. Of these, some 932,335 homes – or 48pc of permissions awarded – were not built." See Halligan's evidence at: https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/2743/pdf/

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