Readers may be bemused by the fact that so many residents have objected to the demolition of Sherards House at a time where there is clearly a need for more council homes to be built. Residents have seen this for what it is, over development of a site which with a little more imagination could have been put to better use.
Sherards House is about 100 years old and has been in Council ownership for several decades during which time it has in the most part been used to provide temporary accommodation. In more recent times the land around the house was used to provide seven prefabricated bungalows, but these were removed a few years ago. Since the building became un-occupied, the Council has failed to carry out any maintenance to it, it has been vandalised and at least two fires have been reported.
Harlow Council made it’s first Planning Application in early 2022. Over 50 objections were received in response to the Plan. This Plan was so badly designed that a revised application had to be made in early 2023 and even then, many changes have had to be made to it. The main objections to the Plan agreed on 16 August can be summarised as follows:
- The original Plan included land which the Council had failed to identify as a Public Right of Way. When it did become aware of this the site to be built on was moved Northwards, onto land which was not in the Local Plan and is not designated for housing use.
- Over development of the site. One of the consequences of this is that The Highways Authority do not want to see the occupants of fourteen houses entering and exiting the estate from Three Horseshoes Road. Because of this, a garage access road will be used to access eleven of the new houses. Following comments about the lack of a footpath, the proposal was revised to include two, but this means the road will be just three metres wide, so vehicles will not be able to pass in and out of the estate at the same time.
- Several mature trees within the site are to be removed to make way for the development. New trees will be dotted around the site, but many of these are close to the houses and will surely cause problems such as root damage and lack of daylight within houses.
Both Conservative and Labour Councillors supported this Planning Application, only Harlow Alliance supported residents with their objections. Far better to have converted the house into four flats and build seven bungalows for older residents, which in both the short and long term would have helped more people obtain a home from the Council’s Housing Register