A £20m bid for more government funding has been submitted by Harlow Council which, if successful, will bring further major regeneration opportunities for the town centre.

The focus of Harlow Council’s Levelling Up Fund bid to government is to completely transform Playhouse Square, College Square and Market Square as part of the wider Harlow & Gilston Garden Town development.

Proposals unveiled last year for the Playhouse Quarter and Stone Cross Square projects have been developed further and improved by the council.

The council submitted its bid after being invited by the government to apply for a share of £4.8 billion of funding from the Levelling Up Fund.

The fund was announced by government in March 2021 and will support town centre and high street regeneration, local transport projects plus cultural and heritage assets.

Harlow’s bid proposals are:

  • Playhouse Quarter – creation of a vibrant arts and cultural plaza improving the setting of two iconic landmark buildings – The Playhouse Theatre and St Paul’s Church. Proposals include a new building to extend The Playhouse with a new box office, café, exhibition and workshop spaces, and studios for creative uses and rehearsals. Playhouse Square will become an area for outdoor performances and College Square and the area outside St Paul’s Church will be improved. The proposal includes purchasing Occasio House to redevelop into new housing. The nearby underpass will also be transformed. The existing taxi rank will be relocated within the area.
  • Stone Cross Square – regeneration to provide a new green, social and leisure-focussed event and activity space. Proposals include an outdoor cinema area, outdoor hospitality and dining spaces, areas for trading, exhibitions and specialist markets, new public sculpture and more landscaping to improve the look and feel of the area.

If successful, the bid will be a further boost for Harlow town centre’s regeneration and the wider Garden Town development.

Just last week it was announced that Harlow will receive money from the Towns Fund, which includes making improvements to Broad Walk and replacing the existing town centre bus station with a new commercial and transport hub.

Construction work is currently taking place to improve East Gate (between Market Square and Broad Walk) following £1m of government funding granted last year.

Brian Keane, Chief Executive of Harlow Council, said: “I would like to thank council staff for their work in recent weeks to put together and complete another bid for further government funding.

“I would also like to thank Essex County Council for their support with the Playhouse Quarter proposals.

“We are hopeful that, following the £23.7m of government funding announced last week, we will get even more support to improve our town and specifically the regeneration of our town centre.

“Our refreshed and improved proposals for the Playhouse Quarter and Stone Cross Square will breathe new life into two public spaces, which will be transformed.

“Both projects will link to the Towns Fund projects helping to make the whole town centre a more vibrant place to visit.”

The council is expected to hear later this year if the bid has been successful.