The Harlow Alliance Party was the only Party to participate in the Local Plan Examination held by the Government appointed inspector David Reed, held over a five day period at the Civic Offices in Harlow. We were able to do so because of the written objections we made last year and earlier this year.
These objections were based on the fact that :
1) Harlow Council’s consultation with residents failed all of it’s own list of requirements set out in a document published in 2014.
2) The Plan does not protect the green open spaces in the town and the wildlife that uses it.
3) The matrix used to identify the 21 sites included in the Plan for future housing development is flawed.
4) The number of homes required is based on out of date information.
These are the key things noted at the Examination by HAP:
Because of the number of Planning Permissions already given and sites in the pipeline, Harlow Council’s latest estimate of homes that will be built in the town will be at least 1600 more than is required by the Government.
An uplift (basically an extra number of homes above target in the Plan in case some schemes are not built) is 14% in Harlow, the fourth highest in England.
Housebuilders will be expected to help pay for a new (relocated ?) hospital in the event that there is a shortfall in the money found from other sources (which in effect means those that buy the new homes will actually be helping to pay for the hospital).
It was said that 35% of travel within Harlow is presently being undertaken by foot, cycle or bus. The new electrified bus (or tramways) will it is hoped increase this figure to 50%.
The present hospital site is only large enough to have 500 homes built on it rather than the 650 in Harlow Council’s Local Plan.
The owner of land near the Latton clock tower wants to build homes on his land but this has not been included in the Council’s Plan.
The 21 sites chosen from an initial list of over 350 sites were selected using a matrix which included using officers judgement and knowledge and a value put to each site based on a survey of residents living near each area and by observing the use of each site. In respect of the latter each of the sites were considered to be of low value. HAP have not met any resident who to date when questioned thought the sites could be considered of low value.
HAP was able to reiterate it’s objections to the 8 sites as follows:
We made it quite clear that residents were concerned that the Council were failing to maintain areas as they had in the past which then led to sites being used less by residents than they had in the past.
West of Deer Park: We pointed out that this land was transferred to Harlow Council from the Harlow Development Corporation on 13 April 1973 with a Restriction which said that “Except under an order of the registrar, no disposition by the proprietor of the land is to be registered unless made in accordance with the Physical Training and Recreation Act, 1937, or some other Act or Authority”. This Act gave the power to Local Authorities for the first time, to designate land for play purposes. In view of this and the opposition it would receive from residents if the Council tried to change it’s use, HAP believes this land could never be built on.
Riddings Lane: We explained that in our view this piece of land should form an important green buffer between Hawthorns in Harlow and any development at Latton Priory in Epping’s area. We have since then been advised that Harlow Council have been given assurances that Riddings Lane will not be used to give access to Latton Priory.
St Andrews Meadow: We gave this as an example of the Council listing sites which nibble away at the green spaces between homes and the major roads in the town. The same had occurred when this estate was built and further construction would lead to even more loss of open space.
Jocelyns: We explained that this area of land was specifically left as open space between it and Broadway Avenue when the estate was built in the 1970’ and has been used as a public open space ever since. Access from Jocelyns would require the removal of a number of large trees and it’s location, close to the main road meant that it should remain an open space.
South of Clifton Hatch: We explained that the proposed site involved the removal of about half the area set aside for play when the nearby housing estates were built. In the past the common had in part been used for football pitches but was now being left to nature and could therefore not be used for play. The issue of flooding to nearby homes was also brought to the attention of the Inspector.
Fennells: We advised the Inspector that a resident who attended one of our public meetings had pointed to a page on the Council’s website where there is an article about the Queens Diamond Jubilee and London 2012. The article states that four playing fields,namely Ash Tree Field, Harlow Skate Park, Jean McAlpine Park and Parndon Wood Nature Reserve had all become Queen Elizabeth Fields in Trust in 2012. We submitted this information to the Inspector together with a picture of the sign at the entrance to the field. A check of this information revealed that the area included in the trust did not include the area in the Council’s Local Plan. We advised the Inspector that residents living adjacent to this land had never been advised let alone consulted about this change in status in 2012 and that if they had, they would have insisted that the Council included the whole site within the area covered by the Trust.
Land between Barn Mead and Five Acres: We explained that this was another example of infilling of land left between estates. It is clear that residents would prefer to see some of the area given over to new parking spaces, whilst the remainder being left as open space.
Pollard Hatch: Whilst HAP agreed that many of the shopping Hatches neeeded to be redeveloped, we made the case that Pollard Hatch was somewhat different, in that it was the only one which already has homes on the site. Any redevelopment would mean not only the loss of a green open space used for play but also the loss of 6 homes.
In conclusion, HAP made the best case that it could in the circumstances to get these 8 sites removed from the local Plan list of sites.
Readers should take note that these sites are on the list SOLELY because the majority Labour Group on Harlow Council have CHOSEN them. HAP believe there are more suitable sites that could be used, we have no objection to homes being built, indeed we support the proposal to build on the other 13 sites.
Removing these 8 sites will reduce the number of homes built by just 220, but bear in mind that the Local Plan already has identified more than 1600 homes in the pipeline, above the target set by the government.
HAP also believe that Harlow Council should only build bungalows, enabling those who would like to downsize their home to be given the choice, releasing their homes to those on the Council’s waiting list looking for larger accommodation.