Memorandum by Harlow 2020 Local Strategic
Partnership (NT 05)
HARLOW 2020 LOCAL
1. The views expressed in this paper are
endorsed by the Harlow 2020 partnership which consists of the
Harlow College, Harlow Council, Harlow Police,
Harlow PCT, PA Hospital, Essex County Council, EEDA, Harlow CVS,
Harlow Schools Consortium, Employment Service, Harlow Partnership
against Poverty, Harlow and District Chamber of Commerce, BAA
Harlow MP-Bill Rammell, Go-East.
This partnership is the Local Strategic Partnership
for Harlow. The partners have been working together on strategic
issues in Harlow since 1993.
2. Harlow was designated as a New Town in
1947 and is now 54 years old. It was built to accommodate the
overspill population from London through the development of a
ring of new towns around London. Harlow currently has a population
of 80,600 and this is predicted to reach 84,000 by 2011. A recent
study however predicts that Harlow has the potential to grow to
around 160,000 over the next twenty years.
3. Harlow is a major employment centre providing
employment for around 33,000 people. It was built on the manufacturing
industry and this still remains a strong influence in the town
accounting for 24 per cent of all jobs. As elsewhere in the country
though, manufacturing has been overtaken by the service sector.
Harlow also has a strong R&D sector and is characterised by
a small number of large companies providing substantial employment
in the town.
4. It has been identified by Government
as a Priority Area for Economic Regeneration (PAER) in Regional
Planning Guidance (RPG9). It is situated on the M11 corridor,
which was developed as a corridor of movement from London to Cambridge.
The London-Stansted-Cambridge study has been commissioned to examine
the potential of the M11 corridor to become a corridor of growth
and not just movement and Harlow's position on the corridor in
close proximity to Stansted airport means that it may be identified
as having the potential to incorporate some of that new growth.
There is evidence that Harlow is ready to embrace
the change that is presenting itself.
5. Harlow is looking at whether a formula
of regeneration and expansion will provide it with a solution
to some of the issues that it currently faces around social deprivation,
ageing infrastructure, skills deficit and negative image. Consultation
has been undertaken through the Harlow 2020 partnership to gauge
the local community's views on how the town should develop over
the next 20 years. This will be fed into the community strategy.
The initial feedback is that the Harlow community is in favour
of embracing the opportunities that significant growth may bring
to the town and that this would include growth both within and
outside of the town's boundaries. This growth would be based on
the original new town principles of sustainability, benefiting
local people, respecting the original masterplan principles and
contributing to the development of a learning community.
6. Harlow has a strong Local Strategic Partnership.
The Harlow 2020 Local Strategic Partnership has been very successful
in attracting new funding to the town for regeneration activity.
An example of this is the SRB programme, "Regeneration through
Youth" which has raised £2.9 million in funds for a
£12 million regeneration programme that has resulted in the
building of a foyer in the town centre.
7. There are many positive features about
Harlow, but, in conjunction with other new towns of similar age,
Harlow is experiencing a number of problems linked to non-organic
growth. These contribute to its status as a PAER and can be summarised
Unsuccessful housing experiments
in the early days of its development
High levels of in-commuting and congestion
Parking issues in residential and
Skills deficits in the local population
caused by the transition from manufacturing to service/knowledge
Changing demands for housing
Lack of affordable key worker accommodation
The extent to which the original
design of new towns is leading to concerns about their long-term
sustainability, particularly the effect of their design on urban
management, how car dependence might be reduced and the balance
between new development and the regeneration of older parts of
The role of new towns in their regional
9. The original design concept for Harlow
was a sustainable one, based on the concept of a town in which
people could live, work and spend their leisure time. People who
came to live in Harlow in its early days got a house with a job.
Built on the neighbourhood concept, everyone in the town had access
to local amenities and people walked far more than they do today.
In spatial planning terms the principles of new town design are
still used today and can be found in the European Spatial Development
Programme which promotes balanced spatial development based on
cohesion, preservation and balanced competitiveness. The commonality
of new town issues in Europe has been recognised through the establishment
of the European New Towns Platform which has been set up to lobby
on new towns issues in a European context.
10. The impact of the car however, was severely
under-estimated. Limited provision was made for car parking in
the residential and older commercial areas. The rise in car ownership,
changes in skill levels of the local workforce and high levels
of in-commuting into the townaround 50 per cent of the
working population now commute to work in Harlowmean that
there are severe congestion problems in many of the residential
and industrial areas in the town. The car has become the main
means of transportation for many people. Buses often have difficulty
in moving around the residential areas because of parking and
the garages that exist in certain areas of the town do not solve
the parking problems on the whole but tend to exacerbate community
safety issues. Harlow has a transport strategy based on reducing
car dependency in Harlow and increasing levels of public transport.
However, certain residential areas in the town need to be re-designed
to make them more accessible on foot and public transport and
the good practice that exists in certain parts of the town needs
to be extended to all parts of Harlow for a real difference to
be made. Additional funding is needed to enable this work to be
done on a more comprehensive scale.
11. The cost of housing has become a real
issue in Harlow with key workers in the town experiencing real
difficulties in accessing affordable housing and higher paid workers
preferring to live outside of the town because of poor perceptions
of the town, its educational attainment, etc. This issue has already
started to be addressed through the development of key worker
accommodation and participation in the Government's new loan scheme
for key workers. More work needs to be done however, if Harlow
is to retain the next generation in the town and attract new employees
in the town to live here as well and in addition to key worker
housing there is a need for more social housing in the town.
12. Harlow is therefore faced with substantial
areas of housing that will need replacing in the short and long
term as well as the redevelopment of commercial areas that are
no longer fit for purpose. To regenerate and renew these areas
in a way that is sustainable, will lead to lower levels of car
usage and will maintain the quality of life of local people is
a major challenge.
13. As part of the work it is doing on
the development of a community strategy for Harlow the Harlow
2020 Local Strategic Partnership has looked at the option of growth
of the town as a possible solution to the need to regenerate some
of its older areas and develop the town as a focal point in the
14. Given the very tight boundaries that
Harlow is constrained by, any significant growth of the town is
likely to take place outside of the town's boundaries in areas
not covered by the existing local authority. Initial work carried
out on options for growth suggest that there is the potential
to incorporate growth planned in the adjoining districts into
the overall plan for Harlow.
If this is the case, there will be a need to consider
how this can be progressed in the context of the Government's
Green Paper on Planning.
15. Harlow believes that it has a significant
role to play in the development of the East of England as a region
providing as it does a vital link between Cambridge and London
with all the potential to take on some of the overspill from the
overheating economies in both of these areas, provide additional
space for developments from Stansted airport and provide a valuable
source of employment generation for the airport.
16. The options for growth suggests that
Harlow could redevelop itself in a way which will be more sustainable
in years to come and this will encompass both physical, social
and environmental regeneration.
17. Business attraction, support and development
is crucial to the vitality of Harlow. The Harlow Business Support
Network partnership is looking at how it can develop a comprehensive
support service for new and existing businesses in the town. In
addition the network will address how it can ensure that the local
workforce has the right skills to ensure that local people can
access good jobs with career prospects. We are working closely
with the LSC and SBS in this respect. Should further expansion
and development of the town occur we would require increased support
from these organisations to ensure that the town can meet future
skill and training requirements.
18. Consultation on options for growth are
still in process, but if they gain the consent of local people
and fit into plans for the development of the M11 corridor, Harlow
would wish to see the Government:
Support it as a sub-regional growth
point on the M11 corridor, recognising the linkage between growth,
regeneration and renewal.
Help it in the development of a masterplan
for the development of the town over the next 20 years addressing
spatial, economic, social and environmental issues including skills
Recognise the significance of Harlow
in the context of the economy of the East of England, London and
In the case of growth not taking
place within Harlow, to recognise that the town should benefit
from any growth that takes place outside of the town's boundaries.
Recognise the need for ageing new
towns to regenerate and renew their infrastructure through holistic
measures and partnership working, in a way which is recognised
through Government's allocation of funding to the local authority.
Expand and develop key worker accommodation
Issues Whether social exclusion in new towns
is being exacerbated by the current Government approach to regeneration
and neighbourhood renewal, in particular relation to small pockets
Whether the Government needs to change
its policy in respect of social inclusion in new towns.
19. Harlow appears as the 82nd most deprived
local authority in England and Wales under the Government's 2000
Indices of Deprivation. This places it as having the third highest
level of deprivation in the East of England and the highest in
Essex. In addition, it has been identified as a Priority Area
for Economic Regeneration under RPG9 guidance. As a result of
this Harlow has been able to access SRB funds in rounds four and
six but it has not been able to access any of the Government's
funding for Neighbourhood Renewal.
20. We are told that this is because the
88 Neighbourhood Renewal Fund priority areas were selected from
the top 50 districts in the country for any one of the six domains
of education, employment, income, health, child poverty, housing
or access. The concentrations of deprivation in Harlow mean that
it did not meet the selection criteria on a ward basis.
21. This poses a real problem for Harlow
and for other areas in the East and South East of England which
are traditionally thought of as being wealthy areas but suffer
from relatively low concentrations of deprivation at a ward level.
Deprivation in Harlow tends to be spread across the wards. None
of the wards in Harlow appear in the top 10 per cent of wards
under the IMD. However, seven out of the 16 wards in Harlow are
in the top 20 per cent of most deprived wards of all wards in
England and Wales and these are Hare St and Town Centre, Passmores,
Stewards, Mark Hall South, Netteswell East, Netteswell West, Latton
22. In the specific domains, Harlow has
six wards in the top 5 per cent, and 12 wards in the top 10 per
cent of all wards under Education which means that 75 per cent
of wards in Harlow have significant problems allied to education.
In Housing, there is one ward in the top 5 per cent and eight
wards in the top 10 per cent which means that 56 per cent of wards
have significant problems allied to Housing. In all of the other
domains the concentrations of deprivation tend to be more dispersed.
Harlow, in line with other new towns has very low levels of problems
linked to the access domain because they were so well planned
and this tends to further dilute overall levels of deprivation.
23. What we see in Harlow therefore is a
pattern of deprivation that tends to be spread across a significant
number of wards in the town. The Government's Indices of Deprivation
recognise that Harlow overall has significant levels of deprivation
in the IMD index but this is not translated into a recognition
of the need to deal with the pockets of micro-level deprivation
spread amongst wards across the town.
24. The impact of changes in ward boundaries
about to take place in May this year is also likely to impact
on deprivation levels in the new wards and this will need to be
taken into account when the Government carries out its next review
of the Indices of Deprivation.
25. In addressing neighbourhood renewal
therefore Harlow's approach needs to be based on areas that transcend
ward boundaries and acknowledge the spread of deprivation over
a wider area than that of the ward. We are starting to identify
corridors of deprivation that need to be addressed across the
26. Harlow has not therefore been recognised
in the strategy for neighbourhood renewal as being an area for
consideration for funding. However, the Harlow 2020 partnership
has as one of its strategic priorities a commitment to address
social exclusion issues in the town to create a more balanced
society. The partnership has made the transition to becoming an
LSP in the last year and is recognised as having developed some
excellent practice in this area. As the partnership moves into
the implementation phase of the community strategy it increasingly
recognises the need to develop its capacity to deliver on this
very broad agenda.
27. Access to Neighbourhood Renewal Fund
for LSP development
The Harlow 2020 partnership has received support
in its development from Harlow Council through the servicing of
its meetings and the development of the community strategy. It
has raised some funds through its members to pay for external
training for its members. The agenda for the LSP in Harlow is
potentially enormous, particularly if the town commits itself
to significant growth over the next 20 years. Harlow 2020 would
benefit from additional support in this area to enable the LSP
to become an exemplary model for LSPs in the country. Additional
funding would be used to:
Provide training for members of the
LSP in the development of the community strategy
Training and support in the development
of new and innovative delivery mechanisms for the implementation
of the community strategy involving the mainstreaming of budgets.
The development of performance measures
against which the LSP can monitor its progress
The development of a case study of
good practice around the development of the LSP
28. Recognition of new towns as a special
case for neighbourhood renewal
Harlow needs to develop a neighbourhood renewal
strategy that will address deprivation across all sections of
the community. To do this it needs recognition from Government
New towns should be treated as a
special case when it comes to regeneration and renewal because
of the problems caused by physical regeneration having to occur
at the same time.
That new towns built on the manufacturing
economy in the 50s and 60s often face skills deficits in the local
populations which restrict job and career opportunities for the
local workforce and cause local employers to employ people from
outside of the area. This creates unsustainable patterns of growth.
New towns should be able to make
specific cases for support for regeneration and renewal in recognition
of the above.
29. Issues concerning the organisation and
regulations operating in new towns in particular:
The consequences of EP's control
of land supply and its role in the Planning System
The effect of the transfer of assets
and liabilities to local authorities
The role of LA residuary bodies and
non-departmental bodies in promoting sustainable regeneration
in new towns
30. All of the above can be dealt with through
a discussion of the role of English Partnerships in Harlow.
31. There are a number of ways in which
EP impacts on developments in Harlow:
Covenants and claw back
32. There are a number of sites in Harlow
which were transferred to Harlow Council from the Harlow Development
Corporation but which EP continues to exert an influence over
through a combination of covenants and claw back. This affects
sites such as the town park, theatre, golf course, allotments,
recreation sites and the town centre market.
33. EP also has the benefit of covenants
on properties owned by Essex County Council and Harlow Health
Centres Trust for such properties as schools and health centres.
It also retained the benefits of covenants on properties sold
within the industrial areas.
34. A number of sites deemed not to have
any significant value at the time have claw back agreements with
EP, which mean that should a new use be found for the site which
will increase its value, a proportion of that increase has to
go back to EP. Claw back came into force in 1987 and the amount
reduces by 2 per cent per year. This means that 14 years down
the line EP could expect to reclaim 72 per cent of any increase
in land value. This can inhibit any incentive to develop new uses
for these kinds of sites.
35. Development of a site by the Council
can become protracted and uneconomic if there is a need to vary
or remove a covenant or pay claw back to English Partnerships.
36. In other instances EP have seemed reluctant
to deal with schemes to vary covenants if they do not raise any
substantial revenue even though the local community would benefit.
EP AREAS IN
37. EP still retains ownership of a small
number of landscape areas within the town.
The Council has an agreement with EP to carry out
certain maintenance functions for some of these green areas such
as Playhouse Square, a car park on South Road, the forecourt of
Moot House Community Centre. This amounts to around £2,500
per annum currently.
EP OWNERSHIP OF
38. EP has ownership of the sub-soils of
many of the main roads in Harlow such as Southern Way and the
A414. This means that they have to be consulted on any development
affecting sub-soil. A prime example would be the service road
at the rear of the Stow Shopping precinct which would be central
to any redevelopment of the Councils car park and depot and the
adjacent private service industry bays.
EP OWNERSHIP OF
39. EP also owns some sites in Harlow such
as Latton Farm and the flood plains to the north of the town.
The Council has to negotiate with EP on any planning proposals
involving those sites. In the past, there has been pressure for
open space to be developed for housing which has been clearly
40. Harlow Council finds itself restricted
in the development or change of use of sites in Harlow which EP
has an interest in.
41. It is estimated that approximately 1,000
acres of land (one-sixth of the town) in Harlow are subject to
claw back and covenant agreements with EP. Unlike other towns,
Harlow does not have access to many assets that are not subject
to EP interest.
42. Negotiation of change or new developments
on any area whether large or small involves unnecessary bureaucracy
43. Any initiatives which result in an increase
in land value of a site subject to claw back mean that money goes
back into the treasury not into local regeneration activity in
44. There is very little in-built flexibility
within the current system to allow decisions which don't have
financial implications for EP, to be made at a local level without
recourse to EP.
45. The overall framework within which Harlow
as a new town operates seems to restrict rather than encourage
46. EP retains title deeds and documents
which are relevant to Harlow Council. This restricts the Council's
ability to carry out management of its property.
47. In the context of a review of the functions
and future of EP, Harlow 2020 would like to make the following
Harlow is an ageing new town and
has a pressing need to address the problems of replacing infrastructure
that ages all at the same time. This is a particular problem for
all new towns and no funding provision has ever been made by Central
Government to prioritise or address this issue.
Infrastructure, existing social and
economic issues along with its position within the region mean
that Regeneration has become a key priority for the Harlow and
this needs to be a key priority for all of its partners.
The Council has strong community
leadership role in the town and is part of the Local Strategic
Partnership involved in the development of a Community Strategy
for the town over the next 20 years. It has positive links to
the East of England Development Agency and supports the implementation
of the regional economic strategy.
48. The following recommendations are put
49. Recommendation One: Harlow Council becomes
successor in title to all EP interests with claw back or covenant
This would give the Council the freedom, in
partnership with its community to respond to and develop new regeneration
initiatives without the cumbersome restrictions imposed by EP
covenants and clawback. It will also have a much greater incentive
to regenerate areas if the increase in land value can be re-invested
in the local community. We would argue that the Council is the
appropriate, accountable body in which to invest these responsibilities.
There is a precedent here in that when housing stock was transferred
to Harlow Council, it was also conferred with the benefit of covenants
and has the right to remove, waive or amend existing covenants.
Existing EP owned-landholdings are
transferred to Harlow Council and subject to the normal planning
and regulatory controls of a local authority.
EP transfers the freehold of the
subsoil of roads within the town to Harlow Council.
In the event of EP landholdings being
transferred to the Council, it is recommended that a commuted
sum should be allocated for the maintenance of these areas.
The statutory functions of EP as
the residuary body for new town corporations are removed in the
light of current changes in Government structures and the introduction
of RDAs and Assemblies.
50. Recommendation Two The RDAs and Assemblies
take on the additional roles of EP concerning research and the
development of a national overview.
51. Recommendation Three
In the event of some or all of the above restrictions
remaining with EP, new working arrangements should be put into
place with EP which reinforce the protocol for Regeneration and
acknowledge the importance of the partnership approach to regeneration
activity in Harlow. Membership of Harlow 2020 might be one way
of ensuring that the right connections are being made.
52. Recommendation Four
In the event of EP functions being transferred
to another body such as the RDA, it would be important to ensure
that lessons are learned and good practice built upon from the
EP experience. The issues of democratic control, automotivity
and influence will need to b addressed through this process.
The Harlow 2020 partnership believes that Harlow
has a great future. As a former new town it has benefited from
many aspects of its original designs which are now recognised
by planners and architects as vital to sustainable development.
It has learned the lessons of innovative and pioneering development
that do not always withstand the test of time. This puts it in
a good position to build on the positive aspects of the town to
take it into its next phase involving regeneration, renewal and
expansion. To do this it will need the support of national Government
and its regional counterparts to enable it to develop in a way
which is sustainable and benefits local people as well as putting
the town firmly on the regional map. The final pieces of the jigsaw
in the way forward are still being put together in the community
strategy as this is written, but the Harlow 2020 partnership would
ask the Government to consider the potential strategic importance
of Harlow and support it in its transition to become a major economic
force within the region as outlined above. Harlow needs recognition
from the Government that as a new town it has specific issues
around social deprivation and renewal.
A NEW TOWN
The Harlow 2020 would make a final recommendation
to Government that it considers the establishment of a specific
fund for new town regeneration.