Harlow District Council’s Local Plan …… Update

In a letter dated 9th January the Harlow Alliance Party have been advised that David Reed Bsc DipTP DMS MRTPI has been appointed the Independent Inspector charged with looking at Harlow Council’s proposed Local Plan.


The Hearings are due to start on Tuesday 26 March and will take place for just 5 or 6 days, finishing on 4 April. In the meantime more information will be put on Harlow Council’s Examination website.


Readers will be aware that HAP have been campaigning against the building of houses on a number of green/play spaces across the town and last autumn presented a formal objection to the Plan, which included a petition with over 380 signatories.


We will continue this fight in the coming weeks, so watch this space.

Closure of libraries in Harlow

Essex County Council have begun to consult with residents across the county following the announcement that many of their libraries are likely to be closed in order to save some £3 million.

It is clear that in the last few years there has been a massive drop in the number of residents using the library service as a whole and that this decline is more pronounced in some locations compared with others. As a result, many libraries are set to close, whilst others may remain open but only if volunteer staff can be found to keep costs down.

The simple fact is, that even if 1) Essex County Council were to receive an increase in Government funding, 2) if a Labour Government were to come to power or 3) if council tax was increased, would the library service, in view of the decline in use, be given any sort of priority for extra funding over say schools or social care budgets?

As usual, the local Labour Party are saying “they will fight these proposals”, have organised a petition and have held a demonstration outside one of Harlow’s libraries. However they have no practical solution to stopping these closures.

To maintain a library service, buildings need to become multi use and as a result the costs to maintain services can be shared by other agencies and groups. The library at Staple Tye is already being used by 6 groups from Harlow’s U3A who pay a small sum to do so and this type of arrangement needs to be expanded.

The Harlow Alliance Party have campaigned since it’s launch to see some of Harlow Council’s services being made available at the towns Neighbourhood Centres such as Bush Fair and The Stow. We want to see the Council take a leaf out of the Council at Dunmow, where it has a Housing Officer working at the library, sharing the costs and thus keeping a library service in the town.

The threatened closure of libraries in our town provides an ideal opportunity for Harlow Council to take the bold step and start to provide services more locally and ensure that all libraries in the town remain open.

Update on Epping Forest District Council’s Local Plan

Inspector Louise Phillips MA MSc MRTPI has been appointed to carry out the independent examination of Epping Forest District Councils’s (EFDC) Local Plan. The hearings are due to start on 12 February 2019.

The Inspector will be holding the hearings at The Civic Offices in Epping on the following dates:

12 February for 3 days

26 February for 2 days

21 March for 3 days

27 March for 2 days

16 May for 3 days

23 May for 2 days.

The Harlow Alliance Party (HAP) was the only Political Party in Harlow who raised objections to this Plan, which if given the go ahead as planned will see thousands of homes built on the boundaries of Harlow. Nearly 1000 comments were made about the plan and it is expected that like HAP many individuals and organisations will want to speak to the Inspector about their concerns.

Bush Fair and Netteswell By-election results, 8 November 2018

These elections took place due to the sudden resignation of the two sitting Labour Councillors. The turn out of voters was very low, in Bush Fair just 20% and only 18% in Netteswell.  Labour were desperate to keep these seats and help to leaflet and canvass across the two wards was provided by Labour supporters from across the country.

HAP contested these seats for the first time. In Nettesewell, Alan Leverett pushed UKIP and the Liberal Democrats into third and fourth place, whilst Nicholas Taylor polled more votes than the Liberal Democrats.

Party Leader Nicholas Taylor gave an upbeat assessment on the progress made since the Party Launch in January. HAP would like to thank the over 550 residents who have already cast a vote for the Party in 2018. HAP is on a steep learning curve and hope to use the experience gained in 2018 to make further progress in 2019.

House building on play and open spaces … update

The report on Harlow Council’s Local Plan which sets out proposals for future house building in the town during the next 13 years was agreed at it’s Cabinet meeting on 13 September.

The report, which with additional documents, ran to hundreds of pages, sets out where homes will be built in Harlow. Whilst HAP acknowledges that new homes need to be built, it objects to these being built on play areas and open spaces between estates. The report failed to mention that 383 residents had signed petitions demanding that 8 sites be removed from the plan The report just mentioned 3 sites, namely Fennells, Jocelyns and South of Clifton Hatch. The error was partially corrected verbally on the night. Most of the comments made by residents who responded to the consultation had objections to some elements of the Plan

In any event, despite the objections recieved and the concerns raised at the meeting about the lack of consultation carried out by the Council and the need for building at Jocelyns, the plan was agreed.

The Local Plan will be sent to the governments Inspector later this year where HAP will continue it’s objections to building homes at;

Jocelyns, St Andrews Meadow, Fennells, Deer Park, Pollard Hatch, South of Clifton Hatch and Hawthorns.

Bushey Croft Playing Field Update

Plans to build 16 houses on this site were agreed by Harlow Council at this evenings (August 22nd) meeting of The Development Management Committee.

Residents and their children living around this area and from other similar sites where house building may take place in the future came together before the meeting to demonstrate their opposition to the proposals. A resident living adjacent to the site, Nicholas Taylor the Leader of The Harlow Alliance Party and John Curry from the Harlow Civic Society all spoke against the proposal. They were then followed by Labour Councillor for Bush Fair, Eugenie Harvey and the Councils Agent who spoke in favour of the scheme. Both Labour and Conservative Councillors agreed to accept the Officers proposal to build 16 houses on this site, dismissing the views of the 170 residents who signed a petition objecting to the proposal and the valid points made on the night.

It was made clear by the Labour Councillors who spoke at the meeting that building homes on recreational areas are considered more important than retaining them as open spaces. The Conservative Councillors voted in favour of the proposals as well. It seems clear that when the Council submits Planning Applications for other such sites in the future, as long as they don’t fall foul of planning obligations then Planning Permission will be given.

The Harlow Alliance Party acknowledges the need for more homes to be built in Harlow and believes that Harlow Council should be building bungalows which would help reduce the imbalance between the types of homes needed to those that are available.  We also be believe that these homes should be at Council rent levels and not so called affordable housing rent levels and not on recreational sites.

Bushey Croft play area

Residents living near the play area between Bushey Croft and Rushes Mead were recently invited by Harlow Council to attend an exhibition nearby about plans to build 16 new homes on the site . It soon became clear that residents living near the site were almost entirely against the building on land which had been used for recreational purposes for over 50 years.

Following the exhibition, a formal Planning Application was made by the Council. Despite the comments made by residents, the plans were almost identical to the original proposals. Residents living near the Bushey Croft plan have submitted two petitions, signed by about 170 people, objecting to the granting of Planning Permission. These petitions together with other comments from members of the public were initially uploaded on to Harlow Council’s website but within a few days were removed. As a result, both residents and the Councillors who will determine the outcome of the Planning Application have no idea who has objected.

The Planning Application is to be determined by Harlow Council at 7:30 pm on Thursday 22 August. (see report here). The report dismisses the objections and it is being recommended that Planning Permission be granted.

The Harlow Alliance Party believes that Harlow Council does not need to and should not build on play areas around the town and this area sets a precedence for the future. We will continue our objections to the building on such sites and plan to hold a demonstration on the 22 August at the Civic Offices. Come and join us!

Bushey Croft and Lister House Planning Applications. Is this what Harlow Council calls consultation?

Residents living near the play area between Bushey Croft and Rushes Mead and at Lister House were recently invited by Harlow Council to attend exhibitions near to both sites about plans to build new homes on them. In the case of Bushey Croft it soon became clear that residents living near the site were almost entirely against the building on land which had been used for recreational purposes for over 50 years. It came to light very late in the day that very few residents living near Lister House had been invited to the exhibition held in the church hall nearby and other arrangements had to be made to help ensure that as many people as possible could express their views on the proposal.

Following these exhibitions, formal Planning Applications were made by the Council. Despite the comments made by residents, the plans were almost identical to the original proposals. Residents living near the Bushey Croft plan have submitted two petitions, signed by about 200 people, objecting to the granting of Planning Permission. These petitions together with other comments from members of the public were initially uploaded on to Harlow Council’s website but within a few days were removed. As a result, both residents and the Councillors who will determine the outcome of the Planning Application have no idea of the outcome of the consultation exercise carried out by officers of the Council. The same goes for the Planning Application for the Lister House site.

The Harlow Alliance Party believe that all comments received about Planning Applications must be available to view on it’s website so that all points of view can be taken into account before decisions are made. It will be very interesting to see the outcome of these Planning Applications. Will they take heed of residents objections?

Market Square refurbishment

Harlow Council are currently holding a consultation exercise on plans to redevelop the Town Centre.  Members of the public are being invited to a series of exhibitions being held across the town in the hope that some sort of consensus of opinion can found. (Click here for more information).

The Harlow Alliance Party (HAP) have been very pleased to note that Harlow Council are now trying to engage with residents and we hope that many will take the opportunity to do so.  However, HAP is greatly concerned that in the meantime Harlow Council’s Regeneration Members have invested the huge sum of £276,007 to refurbish Market Square.  HAP feel that this work is unlikely to revitalise the area or increase footfall and is just a total waste of public money.

HAP feel sure that the introduction of table tennis tables, resurfacing paved areas with chess areas and canopies will not make people use this area any more than they do now and will not attract the right type of activity for residents that are occupying nearby converted offices.

It is scandalous that the Council did not consider holding off any investment until the findings of their consultations were discussed by the Council so that everyone’s views including residents and businesses could be taken into account.

HAP hopes that Harlow Council listens to those businesses and members of the public who take the trouble to respond to the consultation now being undertaken.

HAP believe any plan should enhance the shopping experience in the Town Centre and includes roofing all or part of Broadwalk, the creation of an indoor market and an entertainment and event space and drop off points for shoppers, all of which would increase footfall to the northern end of the Town Centre during the day and in the evenings.

If you have an opinion on this then let us know at contactus@harlowallianceparty.org

Or telephone us on 07415 806925

Problem with trees on Harlow Council owned land?

It became clear whilst out canvassing before the local elections earlier this year that some residents had concerns about the lack of tree maintenance being carried out by Harlow Council in recent years. Residents complained that trees that had in the past been cut back and reduced in height were no longer receiving such attention, blocking out light and causing concerns about root damage to their homes.

All council’s have a duty to ensure that trees on their land are safe and to take action if a risk assessment deems that they should be removed.

The Harlow Alliance Party would be pleased to hear from you if you have experienced similar problems with Harlow Council.  Simply email us at contactus@harlowallianceparty.org or leave a message on 0741 580 6925