Playhouse Quarter

Arts and Culture Quarter for Harlow Gets Green Light

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Garden Town partners, Harlow Council, have received £20m from the Government’s Levelling Up fund to transform Playhouse Square and College Square.

The funding announcement follows on from the recent regeneration news that Harlow Council had purchased both the Harvey Centre and Occasio House and approved plans to redevelop the bus station and Terminus Street area of the town.

Playhouse Square and College Square will be transformed into an Arts and Cultural Quarter with the iconic buildings – the Playhouse Theatre and St Paul’s Church – at the heart of the new development.

The Quarter will include:

  • A live music and performance venue (including music school and recording studio)
  • Upgrades to the Playhouse
  • New pedestrian focused and engaging public square for events, outdoor performances, cinema, and outdoor dining
  • Contemporary bar and café
  • Artist and maker studio spaces
  • High-quality residential apartments
  • Flexible studios for creative and performing arts, rehearsal space, events, smaller and outdoor performances, and community uses
  • A new art gallery and associated spaces for literary arts, spoken word, education events and visiting exhibitions and installations
  • Green pocket park with natural play installations
  • Accessibility provisions including disabled parking and accessibly designed spaces
  • Upgraded and secure underpass beneath Haydens Road

The scheme will also bring together a diverse range of artistic, entertainment, cultural and heritage disciplines to establish a regional hub of innovative and engaging events and activities.

The iconic buildings – the Playhouse Theatre and St Paul’s Church – will remain at the heart of the new quarter.

Councillor Dan Swords, Deputy Leader of the Council, said: “From the consultation we carried out earlier this year there is clear public and stakeholder backing for this scheme which clearly strengthened our bid. I also want to pay tribute to the council’s regeneration team who worked so hard to improve the bid and secure this funding for Harlow.

“We are delivering on the council’s commitment to entirely rebuild our town centre. We are also continuing our work with all our other regeneration priorities for the town, like building new council homes, repairing existing council homes and restoring pride in the town.”

Cllr Lesley Wagland OBE, Essex County Council Cabinet and Garden Town Board Member, added: “This funding will boost the Harlow town centre economy, helping make more of its arts and cultural facilities and enhancing the town centre for residents and visitors alike.

“Essex County Council is committed to our own Levelling Up Strategy, in which Harlow is one of our six priority areas, and we look forward to working with Harlow Council to bring these plans to fruition.”


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