Legal action forces developers to commit to delivery of community facilities

Published date

A consortium of housebuilders has committed to new timescales for the delivery of outstanding community facilities at Gilden Park after legal action was activated by Harlow Council.  

The council has been in ongoing discussions with Barrett Homes (BDW Trading Limited), Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey over the delivery of a sports pavilion and pitches, allotments, community centre and retail units in accordance with the planning obligations relating to the Gilden Park development (known as a Section 106 agreement).

The consortium’s commitment comes after the council had filed injunction papers in July with a court hearing set for this month. The council’s injunction sought to stop Gilden Park developers selling more houses until obligations were met or a suitable undertaking to provide the outstanding obligations was given to the court and the council.

New timescales for the delivery of the facilities have been submitted by the consortium. Failure to adhere to the timescales will breach the injunction. The consortium has agreed to:

  • Submit an Open Space Scheme and Community Specification by 30 September 2023 – these were both received by the council on time. 
  • Provide sports pitches provision by 31 December 2024 – pitches formed and seeding to take place during October 2023, following which pitches will take 12 months to establish.
  • Provide allotments by 31 October 2023 and provide storage facilities by 31 March 2024 – the consortium reports that these works are essentially completed, with surrounding planting being implemented at present. 
  • Transfer allotments management to Harlow Allotment Association or Residents Association by 31 March 2024 – this is expected to be completed in advance of stated deadline. 

The consortium has also agreed to provide a community building by December 2024. The consortium intends to let contracts for the sports pavilion and community building jointly. Retail units will be provided by December 2025. In the meantime, a planning application for a temporary pop-up shop has been submitted to the council. The application seeks permission for a period of two years to tie in with a programme for construction of retail units. 

The action which the council has taken follows two years of discussions with the consortium over the non-delivery of the community facilities. 

Councillor Michael Hardware, portfolio holder for economic development, has welcomed the new timescales but has warned that the council won’t hesitate in taking further injunctive action if there are any breaches, he said:

“Back in July we took an unprecedented move in applying for an injunction to stop more houses being sold in Gilden Park. It is believed to be the first time a council has publicly announced such drastic action, which is rarely taken. This action not only made the Gilden Park consortium sit up and listen, but it has also sent out a strong message to housebuilders across the country. 

"The Gilden Park residents have been challenging the consortium for many years to address the lack of progress on community infrastructure. Our action has always been about standing up for Gilden Park residents who have been let down and failed with no local facilities to enjoy. Thanks to the persistence of residents and our legal action, we now have clarity on when these much-needed community facilities will be provided. But we will be keeping a close eye on every single part of the implementation, and we will not hesitate to take further action if there are any breaches.”