Harlow and Gilston Garden Town

What is it?

This forms part of the Local Plans of Harlow DC (HDC), East Herts DC (EHDC) and Epping Forest DC (EFDC) and Essex County Council (ECC) which will see a huge increase in the number of homes in and around Harlow, together with the building of shops, restaurants, leisure facilities, new business premises, schools, doctors surgeries and infrastructure improvements. A total of 23,000 homes will eventually be built. Those in the Gilston area will  be built by creating 7 new ‘villages’ (Just as Church Langley was ‘sold’ to Planners and house purchasers?)

There are a number of ‘Garden Towns’ being created across the country, backed by the Government in the form of financial and ‘moral’ support. A group called ‘Stop Harlow North’ have been campaigning for many years to stop this part of the development.

What is a Local Plan and why is it needed?

The increasing population has seen the need for new homes to be built. The Government requires all Local Authorities to produce a Local Plan, which sets out where and in what number new homes need to be built in their area and the infrastructure to go with it. The arrival of Public Health England to a site at The Pinnacles and other major new job opportunities coming to Harlow will require many new homes being built. The new Plans cover the period 2020 to 2031 and beyond.

Why have I not heard about all this before?

Despite agreeing to work together to come up with a creditable Plan some 4 years ago, this did not include how and when residents living across the three District Councils would be consulted. Whilst EFDC sent information to each household in their District and held exhibitions, HDC did not do this or even take the trouble to meet with many of the resident associations in the town. Neither EFDC nor EHDC have any legal obligation to consult the residents of Harlow about their Plans, which clearly affect all of us who live in Harlow. The Garden Town group have held exhibitions, but usually at short notice and with very little publicity.

You can find more information on the following links

HDC Local Plan link

EFDC Local Plan link

Harlow and Gilston Garden Town link

Where are we now?

The Government have given their backing to the large development to the North of Harlow, where some 10,000 homes will be built in the next 20 years and Planning permission is now being sought by EHDC. The Local Plan of HDC is in it’s final stages of completion, the Council are awaiting to hear from the Government appointed Inspector of the Plan, this is expected in July 2020.  EFDC are expected to hear about their Plan in the Autumn of 2020.

So what will be the outcome of these Plans if they are all agreed?

North of Harlow  …10,000 homes.

West of Katherines and Sumners …. 2000 homes.

South of Berecroft (known as Latton Priory) …. 1050 homes.

Old Harlow …. 2600 in Harlow and 750 just over the EFDC border.

Within the town … 1000 homes, 500 or so of which will be built on the site of the present hospital.

New schools, health centres, community buildings and more will be constructed as well. To put this in perspective, there are currently some 37,500 homes in Harlow.

What does ‘affordable housing’ mean?

The Plan for Harlow North states that 40% of homes will be ‘affordable’, The HDC Plan has a target of 30%.The term ‘Affordable housing’ is a term to describe homes that include:

Shared ownership: Where the purchaser has paid for only a percentage of the full value of the home and can buy the rest if they wish at a later date.

Rent to Buy: Is a scheme where a person pays a subsidised rent for a set period before having the option to either buy the property outright or with a shared ownershipscheme.

Discounted market sale: The home is sold at a discount leaving a sum to pay of up to 80% of the market value.

Starter homes: Discounted homes for those on a lower income, but few if any have ever been built

Affordable rentals: Where the rent is set at up to 80% of market rent levels.

Whether residents most in need of a home can afford such homes is open to debate.

What does the term ‘social housing’ mean?

Generally speaking this means that they are owned by either a council or Housing Association. Both can in principle build homes as described above.

How many of these 23,000 new homes will be ‘social housing’?

Of the 4,000 homes to be built just over Harlow’s border in the EFDC area, none are likely to be social housing, certainly none will be owned by EFDC.

Of the homes built in Harlow, at most just 500 will be owned by HDC.

Of those at Harlow North, it is difficult to predict just how many homes will be social housing in view of the 20 year time scale involved with the building programme.