£1.3 Billion Infrastructure Plan Approved by Harlow Council

Harlow Council has endorsed a plan that will identify and secure millions of pounds of infrastructure and improvements locally as part of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town (HGGT) development.

At last Thursday’s (2 November) Full Council meeting, the HGGT Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP), which will detail requirements to provide new schools, sustainable transport links, community and leisure facilities and open spaces as developments across the HGGT area take shape, received approval from Harlow.

It will also include requirements for health and social care and emergency services, utilities and flood defences.

More than £1.3billion of infrastructure improvements are detailed in the plan, with £794m of that coming from HGGT developers.

The benefits for Harlow and the Garden Town area, which could be included in agreements (known as Section 106 agreements) from planning applications are:

A need for early years provision, up to 12 primary schools and up to 4 new secondary schools;

An approximately £299 million sustainable transport corridor network which will improve public transport across the HGGT area with a £29 million requirement for other active travel measures such as walk and cycleway improvements.

£201 million to be invested in highway infrastructure such as upgrades to J7 (following the successful delivery of junction 7a of the M11), two Stort River crossings, local road network upgrades and accesses in Essex and Hertfordshire;

Approximately 1,675 square metres at East of Harlow for community halls.

Within Harlow there is to be a proposed community leisure centre including a 6 lane 25 metre pool, teaching pool, 4-court sports hall, fitness suite.

There will also be a new community sports hall containing four courts.

At the East of Harlow allocation there will be a dedicated youth facility.

There will be other contributions to enhance existing facilities subject to assessment:

Upgrades to Harlow Town Park, and access to a new country park in Gilston, natural and semi-natural green space, amenity space and play areas at East of Harlow.

Town centre public realm improvements and new town centre transport interchange and hub.

Refurbishment of Harlow Town library with possible future expansion and relocation.

Improvements to the Playhouse Theatre, an extension to Harlow Museum and Harlow cultural trails.

Funding for healthcare provision required by the development of each new Garden Town site will be secured through s106 legal agreements before planning permission for that site is granted.

The plan will be used as a basis for future strategic masterplanning and planning application discussions for developments within the HGGT area, ensuring that all infrastructure needs across the HGGT area are considered.

The IDP was first commissioned in 2019 and HGGT partners have since then updated their own local regeneration plans, including Harlow’s Town Centre Masperplan Framework which was approved in 2022.

Moving forward, it is intended for the IDP to be reviewed at least every two years so that it can account for the needs of HGGT partners’ local plans as they continue to develop and the needs of local communities.

It will now need to be endorsed by the other Garden Town partners – Epping Forest, East Herts, Essex and Hertfordshire County Councils – before being fully adopted.

Commenting on this milestone being reached, Councillor Michael Hardware, cabinet portfolio holder for economic development, said:

“We are working hard with our Garden Town partners to ensure that Harlow residents, businesses and community organisations get the maximum benefit from future growth.

This council’s endorsement of this infrastructure delivery plan is another major step forward in the Garden Town journey, which also feeds heavily into delivering on our own priorities of restoring pride, securing investment, and rebuilding our town.

“Working with our Garden Town partners we have already secured millions of government investment to upgrade roads, cycle tracks and infrastructure. The plan includes many more millions of pounds in benefits we want for Harlow and that can be made possible through agreements with developers.

“Ensuring that all appropriate infrastructure is accounted for as the Garden Town comes to fruition is absolutely vital; not just for those who will come to the area to be a part of the growing community, it is going to be equally important for our existing residents, who will benefit greatly from improved transport links, more schools, more community facilities and more open spaces.

“The Garden Town is committed to providing our area with vital education, job opportunities, new community facilities as well as new homes. I am very happy to endorse this delivery plan and look forward to seeing it being fully adopted by our partners.”

Naisha Polaine, HGGT Director, added: “The Garden Town’s five council partnership is committed to making Harlow & Gilston a fantastic place to live, work and play and integral to that is quality infrastructure that will not only serve existing residents but those that move here in future.

“Last year’s Your Quality of Life project saw Harlow residents tells us that reliable public transport and preserving open space are key to creating successful communities.

“We’re ensuring that both feature in our infrastructure delivery plan with millions in investment that will benefit local residents.

“From new routes that will prioritise rapid bus transit and cycling/walking pathways to enhancing green areas, we’re delighted that Harlow Council have acknowledged this with their endorsement and look forward to the other four Garden Town council partners adopting our infrastructure plans in the weeks to come.”

 

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