Local Development Plan Emerging Strategy Consultation (read-only)
5. Accommodating Future Development
5.1 Previously, the Council had been required to accommodate growth in accordance with the East of England Plan. This assumed that approximately 5,000 dwellings could be provided within Harlow with the remainder (11,000 dwellings) being accommodated outside Harlow in adjoining districts. The East of England Plan specified that 10,000 dwellings be provided beyond the northern boundary of Harlow, in East Hertfordshire district with the remainder of development provided through urban extensions to the east, west and south of the town (illustrated below).
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5.2 At the time of the previous consultation the East of England Plan was in the process of being abolished. The Council therefore presented all five spatial options that had been generated in the Generating and Appraising Spatial Options for the Harlow Area. This technical study was commissioned by Harlow, East Hertfordshire and Epping Forest to consider options for future development. The five options were:
- Option A: RSS – Northern Led
- Option B: Policy Led
- Option C: Combined Criteria-Led
- Option D: Regeneration-Led
- Option E: Sustainable transport-Led
A Revised Approach to Accommodating Growth
5.3 Following the abolition of the East of England Plan the Council prepared an updated assessment to generate potential development options for Harlow. The Harlow Spatial Options Study (Stages 1-3) provides a ‘bottom up’ approach to options generation, providing more focus on selecting sites within Harlow for development. However, given that the development required in Harlow could not be provided in the district the scope of the study was extended to cover the town’s immediate hinterland irrespective of Council boundaries.
5.4 The study identified five alternative examples for how development could be accommodated. Whilst all examples share certain core features each example proposed a slightly different pattern of growth based upon alternative spatial priorities. At this stage feedback is sort from the public and other stakeholders on the approach and the appropriateness of these examples. The responses received to this consultation will inform the Council’s preferred approach to accommodating development.
5.5 The approach to developing the alternative examples is discussed in more detail in The Harlow Spatial Options Study (Stages 1-3) which has been published alongside this consultation and can be accessed on the Council’s website via www.harlow.gov.uk/ldf-evidence. Stages 4 & 5 will incorporate further assessment of the infrastructure and delivery issues relevant for each development example. This will help inform the selection of a preferred approach to accommodating development.
How Much Housing Can Be Accommodated in Harlow?
5.6 Harlow is a small, predominately urban, district with a tight Council boundary. There are also a number of sensitive environmental sites/areas in Harlow including Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Local Wildlife Sites and areas of floodplain.
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5.7 This means the assessment of land for development potential has focused on those locations with fewer environmental constraints. However, even after examining other sites within the district it is likely some land in adjoining districts may be required to meet Harlow’s objectively assessed development needs.
5.8 Through the Harlow Spatial Options Study (Stages 1-3), development opportunities within Harlow have been explored. This includes the possibility of using sites in the green wedges and other internal open spaces across Harlow.
Harlow Green Wedges
5.9 Harlow’s Green Wedges were an integral part of the 1952 Gibberd Masterplan and are a key characteristic of the town today. In order to provide a robust assessment of all potential development options in Harlow the Harlow Spatial Options Study (Stages 1-3) considered whether the neighbourhood structure of the town (residential areas separated by Green Wedge) should be redefined. The proposed urban structure (left) and rejected approach (right) are shown below.
Proposed Neighbourhood/Green Wedge Structure (left) and rejected approach (right)
5.10 A Green Wedge Review was undertaken to assess whether the boundaries of the Green Wedges could be amended. The review concluded that the principle of Green Wedges should be retained but a number of locations where identified where the boundaries could be amended or redefined. These are shown below:
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Proposed modifications to Green Wedge boundaries
5.11 The Harlow Open Space and Green Infrastructure Study was also undertaken to assess the quantity, quality and accessibility of open space in Harlow. The study identified the following areas of Harlow with surplus, adequate or a deficit in open space provision.
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5.12 Harlow’s open spaces and green wedges are highly regarded by the community and will continue to be protected. However, the Council may consider identifying a small number of Council owned sites where additional affordable homes could be provided to meet the needs of the community.
5.13 The findings of these studies have been considered in the development of revised spatial options for accommodating development in Harlow. These studies can be accessed on the Council’s website via www.harlow.gov.uk/ldf-evidence.
Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment
5.14 A Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment has been prepared with the purpose of identifying sites within Harlow that might have potential for housing development.
5.15 The Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment was completed in 2013 and concluded that there is enough developable land in Harlow to provide approximately 8,900 new dwellings in Harlow Council’s area. This includes 4,027 dwellings that are already committed (have planning permission, or under construction), and 541 dwellings completed since 2011. A further 4,300 dwellings could be provided on new sites within Harlow Council’s area. There might be some potential to increase these numbers if higher density development could be achieved through redeveloping parts of Harlow Town Centre and selected Neighbourhood Centres; however, this is not expected to add significantly to the overall number.
5.16 The figures indicate the likely maximum amount of development that could be provided in Harlow if all identified sites are developed, regardless of the strategy being adopted. However, these sites are subject to further viability and delivery assessment and will need to be considered against the wider strategy being promoted.
5.17 If further assessment concludes that some sites cannot be delivered, or are not appropriate, then this will reduce the amount of developable land in Harlow. The Council will need to work with adjoining districts to consider how unmet housing need in Harlow can be addressed through the “duty to cooperate”.
Development capacity in Harlow District and development required outside Harlow
5.18 The Harlow Spatial Options Study (Stages 1-3) generated five alternative examples for how development could be accommodated across Harlow. The alternative patterns of growth are presented below and are examples only.
5.19 At this stage the Council is not in a position to confirm a preferred approach for accommodating growth but this consultation provides an opportunity for comment on potential approaches that could be developed further. Each example will require further assessment, including further infrastructure and delivery assessment, and will need to be discussed with the adjoining districts having regard to their emerging development plans through the "duty to cooperate". The final requirement for development for Harlow and the preferred pattern of growth will have a bearing on the level of development required in adjoining districts.
5.20 An update of the Stage 1 baseline Harlow Infrastructure Study is currently being undertaken which will assess the infrastructure required by each example to ensure it can be satisfactory accommodated within the plan period. The assessment will be used to assess the preferred pattern of growth for the Harlow Area.