Supplementary memorandum from Harlow 2020
Local Strategic Partnership (NT 05(a))
1. What was the original objective of
the new town?
Harlow was built in response to population overspill
in post-war London and forms part of a ring of eight new towns
around London. Harlow was built as a self-sustaining community
not as a satellite of London. It was built to enable local people
to have access to open, green spaces, homes with jobs, neighbourhoods
with access to schools, pubs, community centres, shops and public
2. Which of these objectives do you
think have been met?
The neighbourhood principles still remain strong
in Harlow and access to green open spaces is still highly valued.
The concept of a self-sustaining community in which all people
live and work in Harlow has changed as skill requirements have
not been met by local residents and had to be imported from elsewhere.
There are considerably high levels of in and out commuting in
the town. A totally self-sustaining community is no longer a practical
reality but one in which local residents have access to good quality
local jobs is still an important part of the regeneration strategy
3. What do you consider to be its role
in the region/sub-region in the future?
Harlow has the potential to become a significant
player in the region and sub-region. Recent consultation on the
long-term future of Harlow has shown that local people and stakeholders
in the town are interested in Harlow becoming a significant player
in the region and to take advantage of the developments that are
likely to take place on the M11 corridor. Research indicates that
there is the potential for the town to double in size and that
this process would lead to considerable benefits to the town and
region. Through sustainable growth beyond its existing boundaries,
Harlow could address some of the issues it currently faces in
terms of poor image, under-investment and ageing infrastructure.
New businesses would be attracted to Harlow because of its position
on the M11 corridor and new investment in the town could lead
to a significantly improved town centre and leisure and cultural
4. To what extent is the original master
plan for the town still used as a guiding principle for development
The Gibberd masterplan for Harlow is still valued
and respected in plans for existing and future developments of
the town. The draft community strategy for Harlow clearly states
that the Gibberd principles will be adhered to in any new developments
in the town.
5. How well have the old and new parts
of your town been integrated? If they have not been well integrated,
what form does this take in physical/spatial terms and what are
the implications for future growth of the town?
Old Harlow is one of the oldest areas of the
town. It has managed to retain some of its old town charm as well
as becoming part of the neighbourhood concept for the town. Newer
developments such as Church Langley have been built around the
neighbourhood concept and there is a rapid bus transit system
in operation giving residents speedy access to the town centre
and train station. It has to be said however that residents in
Church Langly do not necessarily see themselves as part of Harlow
and this is linked to the "poor image" of Harlow in
the main. The image of Harlow is a key area being addressed through
the Harlow 2020 partnership and at the beginning of this year
a CD Rom was launched containing a series of positive images of
Harlow as part of this programme of work.
6. Has/can the town achieve the population
that was originally planned?
Harlow has already achieved the population of
80,000 for which it was originally planned.
7. How does the age profile of your
population relate to the national average? Is this related to
your being a new town? How do local agencies and strategies respond
Harlow has a population of 80,600. 21 per cent
of the population are young people 0-14 years; 13 per cent 15-24
years; 64 per cent aged 16-64 and 16 per cent aged 65 plus. As
an ageing new town the population is now beginning to reflect
national averages and the older population75 plus is predicted
to rise by 30 per cent of the next 10 years. There are some indications
that older people have remained in Harlow rather than moving away
as in some areas of the country and this will place a number of
pressures on the provisions of services for older people.
8. How strong is the demand for existing
commercial land? Is there demand for further commercial development
in the town? What is the effect of commercial development in the
town on the towns in the sub-regional economy?
In the past 10 years there have not been significant
demands for existing commercial land in Harlow. There is a large
business park on the outskirts of the town which has taken a long
time to fill. There are large commercial developments close to
the town station which have failed to attract new companies. Growth
has come about through indigenous growth of existing companies
rather than new companies moving into the area. Harlow has two
major companiesNortel Technologies and GlaxoSmithKline
which have both made considerable investments in the town in the
past few years. However, this is beginning to change and it is
noticeable that new interest is being generated in the town. If
the M11 corridor becomes a corridor for growth as is anticipated
in the Government study currently underway it is likely that Harlow
will have a key role to play in this development. The Business
Park is now almost at capacity and if the town grows outside of
its boundaries this is likely to result in a significant increase
in commercial development. This will undoubtedly have a significant
impact on towns in the sub-regional economy. We would hope that
this impact will be viewed in a positive light and complement
commercial developments in the neighbouring areas.
9. Can you describe the sub-regional
planning arrangements that are in place to regulate/facilitate
development? Can you describe the strengths and weaknesses of
the current approach?
Harlow has been identified in RPG9 as a Priority
Area for Economic Regeneration and we anticipate that this will
be reflected in the planning guidance for the East of England.
However, it is not yet clear how this status will impact on Harlow.
This will become clearer in the light of the study on the M11
corridor. We believe that it is essential to work closely with
regional and central Government on the implications of Harlow
as a PAER particularly in terms of access to funding. The Government's
Green paper on Planning makes recommendations which could facilitate
the development and growth and strategic position of Harlow over
a long period in a regional context.
10. What is the regional/sub-regional
role of the shopping centre in your town? What investment is proposed
in the town centre in the next few years?
In the 70s and 80s Harlow town centre had a
key role to play as a sub-regional shopping location. The advent
of out of town shopping and developments such as Lakeside and
retail parks resulted in a decline in the town centre in a regional
context. The Council and its partners have been working hard to
address town centre issues over the past 10 years and this has
resulted in more housing and leisure activity being brought into
the town centre as well as upgrading of the existing indoor shopping
centre and most recently the development of the southern area
of the town centre bringing more retail and leisure facilities
into the town centre. Town Centre South is a £60 million,
16-acre development which will extend the size of the existing
town centre by one third. It will bring new retailers into the
town centre such as ASDA and Matalan. In addition, Debenhams are
planning to move into the town centre and further development
is being planned for the north and central parts of the town centre
which could be worth £10 million. There is still a great
deal to be done but the tide is turning on town centre development
in Harlow. If, as initial consultation seems to suggest on the
community strategy, there is an agreement on the expansion of
the towna doubling of the town's population over the next
20 years is being looked atthis will present considerable
opportunities for the continuing expansion and development of
the town centre.
11. Can you give some numerical examples
of the problems that have arisen with claw back and covenants
in housing amenity space and other land uses?
At present only those properties included in
the Community Related Asset Transfer are subject to claw back.
The level of claw back at the time of the agreement in 1987 was
100 per cent reducing by 2 per cent per year. Currently the Council
would have to pay 70 per cent of any uplift in value if a site
were to be sold for a use different to that specified in the agreement.
Non specific problems are that all sites subject
to claw back are restricted to their designated use until claw
back level reaches a reasonable percentage to make any change
In some instances it has been desirable to include
a portion of claw back land within an adjacent development. However,
this has not always happened because of the delay brought about
by having to negotiate and agree a valuation with EP and the financial
An example of this is at the Pinnacles where
a factory has encroached onto claw back land and although the
Council is willing to dispose of the encroached area we await
EPs response to agree our valuation figure.
Examples where schemes have been put at risk
because of delays caused by EP not responding or enforcing claw
The balancing pond scheme at the
Pinnacles industrial area where we are still waiting agreement
on claw back to develop a fishing complex.
£4.8 million to English Partnerships
on the Town Centre South developmentgiven the desperate
need for regeneration of the town centrea strong case could
have been made to retain the money within Harlow to renew and
revitalise the town centre. In addition considerable delays were
caused in the negotiating with EP on the above.
Sydenham House Health Centre has
been investigating the possibility of upgrading its health centre.
The Council has been working with the Health Centres Trust to
improve the facility but it has been placed in jeopardy because
of the bureaucracy and delays likely to be caused through disposal
of the site. We are looking claw back of around £14,000.
The Council has been negotiating
the surrender of a scout site lease which could be developed for
possible social housing. The covenant restricting the lands will
need to be varied to enable it to be developed and again EP will
receive the benefit of this covenant under current arrangements.
A number of playbarns are now being
let out for alternative uses to community groups such as the Chinese
Community Association at Lower Meadow where we still await a response
from EP to allow the alternative use of this covenant. Although
this initially delayed the project we have agreed the lease but
await EPs response to allow the use albeit we feel EP may have
acquiesced by not responding.
As the needs of the town change it is likely
that the Council will continue to look for alternative uses for
sites which are subject to claw back or covenant restrictions
such as allotments, community halls, scout sites, swimming pool
and sports facilities.
12. The Committee has been made aware that
in some cases claw back has made right to buy marginal or even
negative, in terms of receipts of the LA. Has this been the case
in your LA? If so give a financial eg. What are the implications
We are not clear on exactly what is meant by
the above wording but make the following response which we hope
attempts to address the issues.
34 per cent of homes in Harlow are still in
Council ownership. The 2002-06 Housing Strategy identifies a £47
million backlog in housing repairs. This is caused mainly by the
fact that as a new town property tends to full into disrepair
all at the same time due to the relatively short construction
period and this has been exacerbated in the case of Harlow by
some of the innovative, building experiments that took place in
the 50s and 60s.
Harlow became debt-free in April 2001, but until
that time 75 per cent of receipts from sale of council homes went
back to the Government. Right to buy in Harlow did not reflect
the particular new town issue around ageing housing stock needing
repairs and replacement all at the same time.
Having become debt-free Harlow now has full
use of its capital receipts from the sale of council homes. The
Government's White Paper: Strong Local Leadership, Quality Public
Services proposes that capital receipts from the sale of council
homes go into a central pot to be re-allocated against set criteria.
Given the backlog of repairs and the specific new town problems
around ageing infrastructure we feel that it would be inappropriate
to penalise Harlow Council through becoming debt free and losing
its capital receipts.
13. Can you quantify the outstanding
liabilities facing your LA as a result of the package of assets
and liabilities transferred to the LA on the winding up of the
HDC and as a result of design and other issues relating to the
This is difficult to quantify but in 1998 it
was estimated that the Council needed to spend £2 million
on its municipal buildings to bring them up to modern standards.
There are two aspects to this:
(i) that the infrastructure is wearing out
all at about the same time so we face large bills to repair or
replace the Swimming Pool, shopping hatches, Town Hall, road kerbs,
etc. This is also exacerbated in some cases by the methods of
construction in the 50s and 60s which are now seen to create problems
in some cases, eg road kerbs and housing;
(ii) that the assets mainly come with covenants
and claw backs attached so that the Council cannot make the full
use of its assets as other local authorities can.
14. How does financial value of the
liabilities caused as a result of your town being a new town compare
to the financial value of the remaining assets held by EP in the
EP do not directly own that much land in Harlow.
They own sub-soil of main roads, Latton Farm and the floodplain
and Terminus House. We are unable to provide financial evidence
of this at this time.
15. To what extent has EP participated
in the regeneration partnerships in the town?
EP has been involved in the Town Centre South
regeneration programme but its role has been more that of a private
developer than a regeneration partner.
In the future there is enormous potential to
work with a regeneration body in a more pro-active and supportive
16. Many of the submissions refer to
the inadequacy of the existing SSA to reflect the needs of new
towns. Can you detail those weaknesses and set out any suggestions
about how any successor to the SSA could be improved?
The current calculation of SSA for districts
is relatively crude and based mainly on population. The weaknesses
of the current SSA can be listed as:
(i) failure to recognise costs associated
with ageing infrastructure;
(ii) failure to recognise fully the demographic
impact of ageing population on demand for services;
(iii) failure to recognise the impact of
the design of the Town on costs: the large extent of open spaces
which the Council must maintain, and for instance the lack of
provision for car parking; and
(iv) the design of the Town with major regional
leisure facilities, such as the theatre, museum, and sport facilities
is not recognised in the SSA. This is particularly unfair to Harlow
which has very ``tight'' boundaries but undoubtedly provides facilities
for many residents of surrounding areas.
Harlow would benefit from a more precisely calculated
SSA. There is a particular issue about the element in SSA for
``concurrent'' services, ie services provided partly by Districts
and partly by Counties. The SSA is based on a national average
calculation which effectively transfers money from Districts to
Counties. We would argue for a concurrent services factor based
on actual expenditure in each area because, as noted above, in
Harlow's case and we expect for other New Towns the balance in
fact is the other way, ie the District spends more than the County,
because of the impact of demographic factors (on social services)
and regional centres for arts and leisure.
17. Has the pattern of the ownership
and CNT/EP's role had any implication in your ability to develop
a housing strategy for the area?
Only to the extent that any strategy involving
EP would need a greater lead-in time than with other partners
because of uncertainty over the covenant agreements.
18. What is the balance between the
original design/materials used and lack of maintenance/resources
for the maintenance in the causes of the poor housing conditions
found in some New Towns?
Money was set aside at the time of transfer
from the development corporation but this was severely underestimated.
The design and materials used in the building of some estates
has left a legacy of work that is only likely to increase. Flat
roofs, cheap materials and lack of useable parking are some examples
of the problems faced in Harlow. In addition the social housing
remaining in council control tends to be that with the highest
level of problems.
19. Has you design led to problems in
crime? If so have you looked at ways to design out crime? Are
there any funding streams currently available to address this
particular problem and if so how successful have you been at bidding
for such funding?
Some of the housing estates in Harlow have become
a focus for crime and this has been exacerbated by the design
issues. One example of this is on the Briars Estate which has
a housing block which has become a focus for young people as a
police lookout and the design of bungalows and layout of the estate
mean that there are a maze of pathways amongst the houses which
can act as easy escape routes. The Council is working with partners
to address the issues on this particular estate and will be seeking
funding to address some of the problems caused by layout and design.
There are numerous other examples in Harlow of estates in which
similar problems have arisen because of layout which is no longer
appropriate for the 21st century.
20. What are you doing through your
Local Transport Plan to address problems of car dependence? Does
your LTP include provision for dealing with issues of design and
layout where that promotes car dependence?
The Harlow Area Transportation Strategy addresses
car dependency issues through the following measures:
Development of strategic bus corridors.
Development of vehicle-restricted
Reduced parking standards for businesses.
Encouragement of businesses in the
town to development transport strategies and commuter plans.
Provision of community transport.
Improvements to the bus and railway
Promotion of walking and cycling.
21. Have you introduced or planned any
measures to promote mobility schemes targeted at the old and young?
The Council runs and has extended its Shopmobility
scheme for disabled children and adults who wish to access the
town centre and its shopping facilities.