Harlow and Gilston Garden Town will see regeneration of Harlow’s Town Centre, with ambitious plans for the future success and vibrancy of the Town Centre.

Many of the distinctive features of Sir Frederick Gibberd’s original New Town masterplan remain evident in Harlow Town Centre. Harlow and Gilston Garden Town will see regeneration of Harlow’s Town Centre, notably, the shopping area is almost completely free of roads. The Town Centre also has the first ever pedestrian thoroughfare in the country, as well as an indoor shopping centre.

A key principle of the Garden Town Vision is to create a vibrant and resilient Town Centre for Harlow.

Harlow Town Centre still enjoys a relatively strong footfall and low unit vacancy rate compared with similar towns. However, like many towns, the Town Centre is facing a number of challenges, including competition from nearby towns, the proximity of out-of-town shopping areas and changing shopping habits, along with the general decline in the retail sector.

The upcoming arrival of Public Health England in the town, together with the development of Harlow Enterprise Zone and the housing growth planned as part of the Garden Town, have significant potential to drive a step change in the Town Centre – driving improvements to both the physical environment and public realm, as well as an increase in the quality and standard of the leisure and retail offer in the town.


Harlow District Council is in the final stages of preparing ‘Harlow Town Centre Area Action Plan’. This is a planning document which marks an important step towards regeneration of the town centre. The Action Plan will provide the framework to guide development and secure the regeneration of the Town Centre for the period up to 2033. The role that the Town Centre performs across the Garden Town is key to the Action Plan.

As a formal planning framework, the Action Plan must be approved by the Government.

Prior to finalising the Action Plan, and submitting it to the Government for consideration, the Council will consult local residents and stakeholders. Public consultation on the ‘issues and options’ was carried out in the summer of 2018 and the document will be published again, ahead of it’s submission to the Planning Inspectorate for examination in the Autumn.

Find more information on the Harlow Town Centre Area Action plan