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Local plan adopted by Harlow

Words: Laura Edgar
Planning / iStock_000035898050

Harlow District Council has formally adopted its local plan, which aims to facilitate the delivery of 16,100 homes, some through the delivery of new garden communities.

The plan was adopted after a six-week period during which no challenges were submitted.

Harlow Local Development Plan 2011-2033 identifies sites to deliver at least 9,200 homes over the plan period and an expectation that in residential developments of more than 10 homes, a minimum of 30 per cent must be affordable.

Because of the housing need, the local plan states, “it  has  been  necessary to allocate a strategic  housing site on open land in the east of the district, which forms part of a  new garden community in the wider Harlow and Gilston Garden Town”. The site is capable of accommodating 2,600 homes, as well as a new primary school, open space provision and other community facilities.

The local plan will also advance the delivery of additional garden communities, which along with other sites allocated takes the total housing that could be delivered up to 16,100 homes.

The  communities are located around the periphery of Harlow, mostly outside the district boundary. They are:

  • South of Harlow (Latton Priory), within Epping Forest District;
  • West of Harlow  (Water Lane Area), within Epping Forest District;
  • Strategic Housing Site East of Harlow, partly within Harlow District and partly within Epping Forest District; and
  • Gilston Area, within East Hertfordshire District.

Danny Purton, portfolio holder for environment and planning at Harlow District Council, told The Planner that, as well as housing, local plan policies were developed on several key themes: prosperity, lifestyle, infrastructure and place-shaping.

For prosperity, 21 hectares of future employment land has been allocated. Purton said further development of the enterprise zone would provide a better balance to the local economy by delivering higher-level jobs.

Lifestyle targets will see existing community, leisure, recreational facilities and green spaces protected and more provided in new developments. Infrastructure work includes new sustainable transport corridors, the M11 junction 7a, new primary schools and a new hospital to support the growth of the district.

Protecting and enhancing the built and natural environment, much of which is the result of town planner Sir Frederick Gibberd’’s original masterplan, feature as part of the district’s plans for place-shaping.

Purton commented: “The new Harlow Local Plan is an aspirational strategic planning document that looks to ensure future development in the area is delivered to the highest possible standards. The plan seeks to deliver 9,200 new homes, 21 hectares of new employment space and has ambitions to have 60 per cent of all travel in the new garden town communities and 50 per cent in the existing area of Harlow undertaken by sustainable modes of transport. Policies to deliver these forward-thinking standards of sustainable transport sit alongside those which require the protection and enhancement of the built and natural environment in line with Sir Frederick Gibberd’s original masterplan for Harlow.”

The local plan also contains a policy that states that development on the green belt will be “severely restricted”, therefore substantial weight will be given to any harm to the green belt when planning applications are assessed. Exceptions to new buildings in the green belt include those for agriculture and forestry and limited affordable housing for local community needs. Several forms of development are also cited as “not inappropriate” as long as they preserve the openness of the green belt and do not conflict with its purposes, such as mineral extraction and local transport infrastructure that requires a green belt location.

The local plan can be viewed here on the Harlow District Council website.

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