Planning Policy

Harlow Council is responsible for all aspects of planning policy in Harlow, including the production of Harlow’s emerging new Local Development Plan. Harlow Council's Planning Policy timeline.

The new Harlow Local Development Plan

The Harlow Local Development Plan will replace the Adopted Replacement Harlow Local Plan and will set out the framework to guide and shape development in Harlow to 2033 and beyond. It is will be a key vehicle in delivering the Council’s corporate strategies. More information about the new Harlow Local Development Plan

Harlow Town Centre Area Action Plan

Harlow Council has prepared an Issues and Options document for consultation to support the preparation of the Harlow Town Centre Area Action Plan (AAP). The document identifies key issues, challenges and opportunities facing the town centre and sets out different options for the Harlow Town Centre AAP to consider and explore. The responses to the document will help inform the development and preparation of the final Harlow Town Centre AAP. More information about the Harlow Town Centre Area Action Plan

Statement of Community Involvement

The Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) sets out how and when Harlow Council will consult with the local community regarding the preparation of planning policies and the determining of planning applications. The Council consulted on a draft SCI Review and subsequently adopted the document on 18 September 2014.

In February 2016 a few minor amendments were made to the document. These amendments were not consulted on as they caused no changes to standards or to policies set out within the document. The changes were made to increase the clarity of the document and make it as user-friendly as possible. Where relevant, updates were also made to the list of specific consultees. For example English Heritage has now changed its name to Historic England.

Cooperation for Sustainable Development Board

The Cooperation for Sustainable Development Board supports Local Plan making and delivery for sustainable communities across the geographical and administrative boundaries in West Essex, East Hertfordshire and the adjoining London Boroughs. It does this by identifying and managing spatial planning issues that impact on more than one planning area within these communities. The board is an advisory body and any decisions resulting from its advice remain the responsibility of its constituent Councils. More information on the board

Housing Delivery Test

The Government has committed to boost the supply of new homes nationally through a number of policy interventions and reforms to the planning system, which are intended to deliver more housing, improve housing affordability and remove barriers to development. The Government expects Local Planning Authorities to be at the forefront of meeting their requirements, and to be responsible for increasing the speed of provision and the quantity of new homes which have been identified to meet the needs of the local area.

The Housing Delivery Test (HDT) has been introduced by the Government to monitor the Local Planning Authority to ensure they are building new homes at a rate that will meet the identified housing need. It was introduced as part of the National Planning Policy Framework in 2018. It provides a new indicator for housing delivery and sets out consequences for those councils who are unable to fulfil the requirements of the test.

The HDT compares the number of new homes delivered over the previous three years with the authority’s identified housing requirement. 

The results of this test for Harlow were as follows:

Number of Homes Required Total Number of Homes Required  Number of Homes Delivered Total Number of Homes Delivered  Housing Delivery Test: 2018 Measure  Housing Delivery Test: 2018 Consequence 














326 329 353 1,008 225 340 281 846 84% Buffer


As the number of home delivered was below 85% an additional 20% dwellings will need to be commenced in the next five years above the housing requirement. In addition as the delivery has been less than 95% the Council has had to prepare an Action Plan to address the reasons for the shortfall and actions it will take to improve delivery in the future.

Current Planning Policies

Adopted Replacement Harlow Local Plan

The Adopted Replacement Harlow Local Plan sets out the planning policies which are currently used by Harlow Council to determine planning applications and to guide development and the use of land across the Harlow District. More information on the Adopted Replacement Harlow Local Plan

Supplementary Planning Documents

The Council has produced a suite of Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) that support and expand on the policies contained within the Adopted Replacement Harlow Local Plan. SPDs are not part of the statutory development plan, however they are a material consideration in determining planning applications. More information on SPDs

Local Development Orders

A Local Development Order (LDO) grants planning permission for specific types of development that are set out in the Order Schedule, providing they conform to meet the requirements of the related accompanying Design Code and planning conditions. More information on LDOs


Conservation Areas have a legal status as areas of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. More information on conservation in Harlow

Article 4 Directions

An Article 4 Direction allows the Council to manage change in special areas in a positive way, by removing certain permitted development rights normally available to householders. Where an Article 4 Direction is in place, householders must make a formal planning application to the Council and receive planning permission before carrying out the form(s) of development specified in the Direction. More information on Article 4 Directions.

Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO)

Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) are houses which are inhabited by three or more unrelated people, as their only or main residence, who share one or more basic amenity. More information on HMOs

National Planning

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government produces planning advice as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and planning practice guidance. These set out the Government’s approach to planning for England and how this is expected to be applied. Harlow Council is required to have regard to this guidance in the production of its Local Plan.  More information on National Planning

Other current planning policies

Essex Minerals Local Plan -The current Essex Minerals Local Plan was adopted on 8 July 2014. The Plan provides planning policies for minerals development in Essex until 2029. In particular, it gives certainty as to the location of future minerals development.  The Plan includes mechanisms aimed at reducing the demand for primary mineral use, recycling more aggregate and safeguarding mineral resources, reserves and important facilities.

Essex Street Materials Guide 2012 - The role of surface treatments and street furniture plays a major part in place shaping and quality of the living environment.

Essex Waste Local Plan - The Essex and Southend-on-Sea Waste Local Plan was adopted by Essex County Council on 11 July and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council on 19 October 2017. The Plan is now part of the development plan in Essex and waste planning decisions must be taken in line with the Plan, subject to other material considerations.

Authority Monitoring Report

The Authority Monitoring Reports (AMR) form part of the Local Plan and have replaced the Annual Monitoring Report. As an important part of the plan-making process for Local Planning Authorities, the AMR can be updated as frequently as deemed necessary. There is no longer a requirement to produce a Monitoring Report on an annual basis for submission to the Secretary of State. However, the duty to monitor and report still remains an important part of the plan-making process for Local Planning Authorities. AMRs can be updated as frequently as deemed necessary, instead of being updated just once a year.