Harlow & Gilston Garden Town’s five council partners and applicant, Places for People, are aware of a protest taking place in Harlow today (Saturday 11 September) against the proposed River Stort Crossings.
These applications are for improvements to the Central Stort Crossing and a new Eastern Stort Crossing but are still proposals from the applicant at this stage.
They are due to be heard by the Development Management Committees of the two planning authorities, East Herts Council and Harlow Council, with dates to be confirmed shortly.
The following has been collated by experts from across the Garden Town partnership which consists of East Herts, Epping Forest and Harlow District Councils plus Herts and Essex County Councils.
It is designed to give residents factual information regarding the proposed crossings:
Building across the River Stort
The improvements to the Central Stort Crossing will see the introduction of dedicated new lanes in both directions for buses and bikes, forming new public travel routes that connect the new community at Gilston to the railway station, Harlow town centre and other sites that make up the wider Garden Town.
No extra space will be provided for cars on this crossing as the five Garden Town partners have an overall objective of achieving 60% of journeys from the new development to be made by walking, cycling or public transport rather than by private vehicles.
For the wider area the target is 50% of journeys in the longer term.
The Eastern Stort Crossing will accommodate all modes of transport, with wide pavements for walkers and cyclists plus bus routes to employment areas within Harlow & Gilston Garden Town.
Plans for both crossings have been designed to locate bridge supports away from watercourses and to allow for the continuation of wildlife corridors beneath the structures.
Harlow and noise pollution from construction
Noise assessments do not indicate an impact on the Stort Navigation or Harlow.
Building on the Green Belt
There are strict policies which regulate new development on Green Belt land and specific policies regarding essential infrastructure.
But those policies do not mean that certain appropriate development cannot take place.
National planning policy allows particular types of development such as essential infrastructure to be located within the Green Belt, subject to meeting strict criteria.
The land for the Gilston area development was removed from the Green Belt as part of the East Herts Council’s District Plan in 2018.
Both the East Herts District Plan and the Harlow Local Development Plan, which have been adopted following public examination by an independent inspector consider that, in principle, the two River Stort Crossings are required.
Detailed species assessments have taken place across the Stort Valley but HGGT partners are aware that this is only ever a snapshot in time and that the majority of species affected are mobile birds and mammals so updated surveys will be done again ahead of any possible construction taking place.
Submitted surveys indicate that while no evidence of otters and water voles has been found in the area directly impacted by the bridge construction, there is the potential for those species to inhabit areas of the Stort Navigation and River Stort.
Strict measures to protect species and habitats will be required throughout construction and, before any work starts, updated ecology surveys will be required so that specific species mitigation measures can be applied if needed.