05 Jan Major boost for economic and social future of West Essex
The economic and social future of West Essex and East Hertfordshire has received a major boost with the award of a government grant towards a garden town proposal.
Epping Forest, East Herts and Harlow District Councils have received a joint £0.5million award in the form of a Government grant to support transformational strategic proposals for Harlow and the surrounding area.
The “Garden Town grant” has been awarded through the Government’s Locally led Garden Towns funding to help to build a joint Strategic Team as well as funding research, and specialist support for Harlow and Gilston Garden Town. Using garden city principles this will enable support to be provided to local communities to ensure that they are involved in the development of masterplans for the sites.
The three neighbouring partners and Uttlesford District Council have identified a potential need for around 15,000 new homes in and around Harlow over the next 20 years or so. The bid by the three neighbouring councils was supported by a range of other organisations and individuals based in the London Stansted Cambridge Corridor (LSCC) including:
· Uttlesford District Council
· Essex County Council
· Hertfordshire County Council
· South East Local Enterprise Partnership
· Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership
· London Stansted Cambridge Consortium
Garden towns were pioneered in Letchworth and Welwyn with Harlow as a New Town designed along Garden Town principles by Sir Frederick Gibberd. The draft local plans being developed by Harlow, East Herts and Epping Forest District Councils reflect the importance of Harlow as an economic and social hub of the area. New housing and employment emulating the best aspects of the original garden cities lie at the heart of the proposals.
Epping Forest District and East Herts Council have just completed public consultations on Local Plans identifying strategic housing allocations. The Local Plans will look ahead as far as 2033, while the Garden Town development could look as far forward as 2050. Work is continuing on developing Harlow’s local plan ready for public consultation this year.
As well as housing and employment, the funding will help to address key issues and challenges such as access to the M11, the A414 corridor, River Stort crossing improvements, water use and treatment, and healthcare. It will also help to secure high design quality and ensure strategic development contributes effectively to the provision of infrastructure.
Councillor John Philip, Planning Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: “The regeneration of Harlow is key to the success of our region. The whole area will benefit from the coordinated strategic provision of new homes, employment and social infrastructure in and around Harlow. It makes sense and I am therefore delighted to see the DCLG putting its weight and money behind the proposals. This funding will enable us to support local communities, parish and town councils to be involved in shaping the future of this area.
East Herts Council leader Linda Haysey said: “This funding will enable us to take the first steps in scoping out how the garden town could look – exploring sustainable transport, homes for a range of sizes, needs and affordability, health provision and all the other elements that go towards a successful community. It will also allow us make sure we’re fully engaged with residents who might be directly affected by the proposals.
“The garden town is an ambitious project that will benefit the wider region and so I’m delighted there will be access to the new Housing Infrastructure Fund and that we’re now in a position to take the next steps.”
Councillor Jon Clempner, Leader of Harlow Council, said: “Harlow Council has clear ambitions to regenerate Harlow and believes growth, particularly to the north of Harlow, would contribute to the development of the town in its role as the sub-regional centre. This initiative is a huge opportunity for Harlow and the surrounding areas to provide much need housing and infrastructure improvements which will all contribute to the regeneration of Harlow.
“This welcomed announcement comes at the same time Harlow begins to celebrate its 70th birthday and this is about looking to the future and the next 70 years to help secure Harlow’s future. If we are going to provide the full range of housing that local people need, in particular affordable housing, as well as create jobs and skills opportunities to meet the inward investment we are achieving, then we all need to work together on proposals to achieve sustainable growth. The Government funding enables all three Councils to move proposals forward to carry out detailed work and I look forward to continuing working with East Herts and Epping Forest Councils on this ambitious project.”