The Inspector appointed to examine Harlow’s Local Plan has written to Harlow Council this week outlining his changes to the plan.
Harlow’s Local Plan will guide development across the town, including identifying where developments are both acceptable and unacceptable, as well as providing a strategy for growing and regenerating Harlow up to 2033. Earlier this year the Inspector, David Reed, held a number of public hearings on the plan and this letter represents his findings after concluding those hearings.
The Inspector has endorsed the council’s vision, strategic objectives and overall spatial development strategy of the plan. However, he is proposing some changes (known as main modifications), although he states that none are fundamental to the strategy of the plan.
He is proposing to strengthen the council’s ability to protect green spaces in the town. He is also proposing the deletion of the following seven small housing sites from the plan:
- land East of Katherines Way, west of Deer Park - reinstate as green wedge
- south of Clifton Hatch
- Kingsmoor Recreation Centre
- land east of 144-154 Fennells - council to consider designation as a small additional area of green belt
- land between Second Avenue and St Andrews Meadow - reinstate as green wedge
- playground west of 93-100 Jocelyns
- land between Barn Mead and Five Acres
The Inspector also proposes that the number of homes allocated on the Princess Alexandra Hospital site is amended from 650 to 550. This reflects the agreement reached between Harlow Council and the hospital earlier in the year.
Councillor Mark Ingall, Leader of Harlow Council, said:
“I welcome the timing of the inspector’s letter as it brings some much-needed clarity for us in moving our plan forward next year. I welcome the debate that the plan has created and I thank all those who have contributed, made comments and representations during this process. Next year there will be a final consultation to come on the modifications before the plan is adopted, but it feels that we are now much closer to its adoption.
“This plan is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Harlow, a plan that can make our town’s potential a reality. If we want to continue improving our town, providing much-needed housing and employment and creating new opportunities for local people, future generations and businesses, then we need a Local Plan that supports Harlow’s development, aspirations and growth for the future as part of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town.
“Housing for Harlow’s future generations is a huge priority, but I know the issue of where housing should go in the town is a sensitive one. The inspector is proposing that seven small sites allocated for a total of 201 homes are deleted from the plan and that the land is instead kept as it is or designated as green wedge. The inspector is also proposing to strengthen our ability to protect green spaces in the town from development, which is also an important issue for retaining our new town legacy.”
The next steps for the council will be to agree a schedule of modifications with the Inspector which will hopefully be presented to Cabinet in February. Public consultation on the modifications will follow in March (subject to it going to Cabinet in February). The council will then await the inspector’s final report after the consultation recommending adoption of the plan sometime in summer 2020.
A copy of the Inspector’s letter can be read on our examination documents page