Guy Nicholson, HGGT Independent Chair

BLOG: Transformation of Local Transport Infrastructure

Independent Chair for HGGT, Guy Nicholson, comments on what’s next for the Garden Town after a pair of historical Planning Committee meetings at East Herts Council.

The first was held on Feb 28 and saw Places for People’s plans for 8500 new homes in six Gilston Garden Villages receive an agreement for approval.

And March 23 saw East Herts Council agree to approve Taylor Wimpey’s application for 1500 homes as part of the seventh Gilston Garden Village. 

The Planning committee decision on February 28 was significant, alongside the new homes it also initiates the unlocking of £90m of infrastructure investment to serve and support residents already living and working in Gilston and Harlow.

The investment delivers the transformation of local transport infrastructure, connecting the Gilston Garden Villages with Harlow town centre.

Infrastructure that will enable different modes of travel including a planned rapid bus transit network alongside cycling and walking routes that are safe and direct.

The 8500 homes across six villages approved by East Herts Planning Committee have now been joined by a further 1500 homes in a seventh village from Taylor Wimpey.

Credit must go to East Herts Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Places for People and Taylor Wimpey who have committed a great deal of time and professionalism in arriving at this point.

Places for People’s planning application was the biggest ever received by East Herts Planning service and the scale and complexity of the project is significant.

As a five Council led, Garden Town initiative, we have consistently challenged developers, demanding from them quality development that enables and supports good growth for residents and local businesses as well as future residents.

The decisions of the Planning Committee initiates the master planning stage for the Gilston Garden Villages. This stage is crucial in ensuring the Garden Town’s objectives for sustainable living are realised and that local residents can contribute to the shaping of the designs and landscaping.

To help ensure that quality and good growth is at the fore, the master plans and the designs will also be scrutinised by an independent panel of architects, landscape architects, and urban designers to ensure that quality and standards are maintained and remain a priority.

Gilston is the first of four planned Garden neighbourhoods, the remaining three are planned for East Harlow, Water Lane and Latton Priory.

All will be connected to a new central bus interchange in the town centre via dedicated and custom built travel routes.

In addition, good growth means supporting the building of community infrastructure that includes additional primary and secondary schools, leisure and sports facilities, health care facilities and workspaces.

Our ambition is to unlock and realise good growth that helps enhance the quality of life across the neighbourhoods, extending Gibberd’s New Town green wedges and ensuring that Harlow’s town centre is at the very heart of a growing Garden Town.

Creating a thriving community cannot be done without the town centre, the crucial ‘fifth’ neighbourhood that ensures that existing neighbourhoods as well as the four new neighbourhoods can prosper.

The Garden Town partnership is supporting Harlow Council deliver the community’s ambitious plans for a revitalised and connected town centre that becomes a destination supporting a thriving town centre economy for residents and visitors alike.

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