Harlow Council has welcomed the historic decision to grant planning permission for 8,500 homes to be built as part of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town.
Yesterday (28 February 2023) the application, submitted by Places for People, was brought before the East Herts Development Management Committee in the single largest application ever seen by the authority.
Approval means plans can now move forward for the creation of six of the seven villages that are planned for the Gilston area of the Garden Town.
The principles behind the application were established as part of the East Herts Local Plan, which was formally adopted in 2018.
The seventh village, which is set to be developed by Taylor Wimpey, is subject to a separate planning application for 1,500 homes and is still to be heard by East Herts. In total 10,000 homes will be built between now and 2050 and beyond.
Commenting on the successful application, Councillor Michael Hardware, cabinet portfolio holder for regeneration and strategic growth and Garden Town board member, said:
"This is a great day for the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town. We have seen history made with the largest application our neighbour and partner East Herts has ever heard being approved and can now look forward to seeing the Garden Town begin to take shape.
"It's not just about the much-needed homes either - the approved application includes plans for six primary and two secondary schools, healthcare facilities, a leisure centre and sports facilities, and 29,000m2 employment space. This displays the Garden Town partnership's commitment to providing our area with vital education and job opportunities, as well as new homes.
"In addition, the Garden Town development will have direct benefits to Harlow itself through financial contributions of around £271,000 for the Playhouse Square project and up to around £1.1 million for our local libraries, as well as major improvements to our cycle path network. These and many more benefits are made possible through the agreements we have in place with the developers.
"In total, Harlow is set to benefit from £90 million in investment for facilities and infrastructure as we integrate into the Garden Town.
"We do recognise there are concerns about impacts to the environment and local infrastructure. The development will come with significant areas of green space with community and country parks and there will be green 'buffer zones' separating the villages, and locally we are already progressing with improvements to the Harlow infrastructure, with works already under way on Fifth/Zelenskyy Avenue and the bus station/transport hub project set to start in the coming months. This will create a sustainable transport corridor connecting Harlow to the new villages."
Councillor Russell Perrin, leader of Harlow Council, said:
"This point in time has been years in the making. As you would expect with a development of this size a huge amount of work from our officers and those at our partner councils (East Herts, Epping Forest, Essex and Hertfordshire County) has gone into creating a bold vision for the Garden Town to create a new community with Harlow at its heart. I want to thank everyone involved in getting us to this point.
"I am both proud and excited to be leading Harlow Council in working closely with our Garden Town partners to bring this ambitious project to fruition and look forward to seeing its full potential realised in the coming years."
Naisha Pollaine, director of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town, said:
"It’s a landmark moment for the five-council partners of Harlow and Gilston Garden Town and the most significant housing decision in the area since Sir Frederick Gibberd’s plans for Harlow were approved over 75 years ago.
"We will continue to put local people at the heart of our placemaking and work with them to create thriving communities, new job opportunities and much needed housing for existing residents and the generation that follows.
"With Harlow Council having secured the funding for Town Centre regeneration, the door of opportunity is now wide open for the local area in terms of transformative development, investment, commerce, employment, retail and leisure.
"It is vitally important that the growth of the Garden Town provides the right community and physical infrastructure for the residents already here in East Herts, Harlow and Epping Forest and those to come.
"For this reason, the growth of Gilston includes the direct delivery of a range transport improvements, investment in skills development and funding to the value of around £90m for services and infrastructure enabled by the Places for People proposals."
You can read the full list of the Heads of Terms, detailing the contributions to be made as part of the Garden Town development, in the agenda for the East Herts Development Management Committee meeting under Appendix C.