Stort River Crossings – Harlow Alliance Party response

On Wednesday evening Harlow Councillors were asked to agree a scheme costing tens of millions of pounds, which many residents feel will be wasted. It is ironic that Politicians in this country condemn the actions of other Governments when they take decisions which destroy natural habitats and yet our Councillors were happy to support a scheme which does exactly that.

The river crossings will not add any extra capacity for car use, despite the fact that residents of the 10,000 homes being built to the North of the town are being encouraged to use facilities in Harlow. Instead bus lanes, enhanced paths and a cycle track will be constructed from Harlow Town Railway Station into the new development, and a new single carriageway with a path and cycle track will be built across the Stort Valley from Gilston to Riverway. Congestion on Harlows roads can only get worse as a result of these proposals. Vehicle manufacturers are spending millions of pounds to develop electric and driverless cars, any hope of a shift to public transport (buses) is simply wishful thinking.

The plan to develop land at Gilston is fundamentally flawed. There will not be any roads running to the North from the development, meaning residents and visitors will only be able to enter and exit using roads from the A414. The proposed development is nearly three times the size of Church Langley in terms of the number of homes to be constructed, we are all aware of the traffic congestion which can build up if any sort of road incident occurs on the A414. Without roads leading North, residents wishing to travel northwards will have to use a series of minor roads through nearby settlements such as High Wych and Sawbridgeworth, adding to the gridlock which already occurs on these roads

Members are elected to represent their constituents. Hundreds of residents objected to these Planning Applications and over 6000 signed a petition against them as well. If Harlow Council had taken a pro-active approach to consult with those of us living in the town, indeed if we had the benefit of Area Neighbourhood Plans, hundreds if not thousands more objections would have been received. A document produced by the developers of Harlow North called Community Engagement dated April 2019 set out details of the huge consultation exercise which was undertaken. Sadly very little consultation was carried out with those most affected, namely those of us who live in Harlow.

Evidence is now available which throws doubt on the Government’s target for the number of new homes required in each Council area, as a result many Councils in the South East are either throwing out or reviewing their Local Development Plan following increased opposition from residents concerned about the loss of Green Belt land. Councils have a duty to review these plans, It is a shame that Councillors at Harlow, East Herts and Epping Forest have until now not done so.

In conclusion, our elected representatives have sold us down the river (excuse the pun), Harlow gets no benefit from the construction of these river crossings, they are only being built to try and mitigate the effects of building 10,000 homes in the middle of a field.