Harlow Alliance response to the interview between the Director of HGGT and the CEO of Harlow Council

On 25th September YourHarlow published an interview between the Director of Harlow & Gilston Garden Town and the CEO of Harlow Council (you can read it here) to discuss their unique partnership and the exciting project that is the Harlow & Gilston Garden Town. A consultation exercise will commence early next month, lasting for six weeks, which purports to asks residents their view on a range of issues about the proposed development.

The Harlow Alliance Party was the only Party to object to the Local Development Plans of Harlow and Epping Forest District Council when they were scrutinised by the Government appointed Planning Inspectors back in 2019. The Party has always made its case backed by facts and in view of the recent interview we wish to make our case clear to counter some of the points made.

Firstly, the boundary of Harlow should have been changed to include the whole HGGT area so that the public services provided by a District Council are provided by just one Council and decisions made about the future of the town are made in Harlow and not Epping and Hertford as is be the case now.
Because no boundary changes have taken place, Harlow Council will not receive any Council Tax or Business Rates from the occupiers of the new homes and businesses built around the town.

Hundreds of acres of Green Belt land around Harlow (not Epping or Hertford of course) will be lost to development, including land used for commercial greenhouses, just at a time when the country should be reducing its food imports.

The need for affordable housing was clearly demonstrated in the Local Plans of the three District Councils. Despite this, developers have already been allowed to seek Planning Permission with a reduced number of such homes and indeed in some cases without any. Not a single Council owned home will be built in the new developments bordering Harlow despite the huge waiting lists held by the three District Councils.

In the interview reference was made to the ageing housing stock in Harlow. Building thousands of unaffordable homes around the town helps none of the existing residents of Harlow.. Harlow Council has failed to maintain the external fabric of its houses, less than 200 homes per year are being externally repaired and painted, leaving many untouched for literally decades. Perhaps this is all part of a long-term plan by the Council as it has with Sherards House, leave them for years to fall in to disrepair and then say they have to be demolished.

The roads leading in, within and out of Harlow will undoubtably see a huge increase in traffic, more noise, more pollution and more damage to road surfaces. Major road works will be needed in front of St James’ School, at other pinch points across the town and in order to create the new transport corridors. Any suggestion that public transport will take up much of the extra travel seen in the town will fall on the deaf ears of residents who have seen bus routes cut and poor services provided.

Harlow Alliance remains adament that these developments around Harlow will do nothing to improve the lot of us already living here, in fact quite the opposite and Harlow Council has let its residents down. Again.