Harlow and Gilston Garden Town

Many readers will know that Green Belt land to the North of Harlow has long been proposed as a site for a huge new housing development, owned by several organisations who hoped that in due course permission would be given to develop the site.

Some four years ago agreement was reached by three District Councils, Harlow, Epping Forest and East Herts and two County Councils, Essex and Hertfordshire to form a consortium which effectively created The Harlow and Gilston Garden Town. In the next couple of decades thousands of homes will be built  on Green Belt land to the North, South and West of Harlow.

The Harlow Alliance Party was the only Party to object to these plans as they stand. We believed at the outset that decisions about the future of an extended town should be made in the Council chamber in Harlow and not in Epping and Hertford. In order to achieve this, District and County boundaries should have been changed so that residents living in the expanded town would receive services from just one District Council and one County Council. In due course, Harlow Council should seek to create what is known as a unitary authority, from which all public services would be provided. As it is, services will be provided by five Councils, each with their own priorities and funding streams.

Without such a change, residents in each District have been consulted about parts of the plan which affect them in different ways and at different times. Epping Forest DC had no legal obligation to consult residents in Harlow about their plan to allow thousands of homes to be built just over the garden fence of homes in Harlow and East Herts had no legal obligation to consult with residents about their plans and how it would affect those living in Harlow. It has recently been acknowledged that Harlow Council can at best only influence what is happening to the land to the North of the town.

The plan to create a new river crossing from the A414 to Riverway and creating a metro system from the Gilston development to the town centre and on to Latton Priory to the south of Harlow is just part of a scheme primarily designed to benefit the residents of these new homes, where the aim is to get 60% of journeys being taken by bus, cycle and walking. At best they will help to ensure that traffic congestion in Harlow does not get as bad as it could be, it is a simple fact that with the population of the area expected to increase by about 50% in the next 20 years the roads in Harlow will become congested like never before.

The outcry from residents about the plan to construct the new road over the river is likely to be the first of many which will be heard from those of us who already live here. The Harlow Alliance Party urges residents to sign the petition objecting to the building of a new road across the River Stort, this can be found at: