Development Management Policies Consultation Draft
4.1 The Prosperity policies aim to protect existing employment uses and encourage and support future employment uses in designated areas, and to avoid the loss of overall job numbers in the district. They support start-up and small business units to promote entrepreneurship and economic regeneration across the district.
4.2 Harlow's retail centres provide prosperity and employment for residents and visitors and the town and serves as a sub-regional centre for services and facilities across the wider area. The Prosperity policies, therefore, intend to retain and enhance the existing provision in order to maintain Harlow's sub-regional role.
4.3 There are several Retail Parks in Harlow which contribute to retail provision in the town. A key priority is to maintain and enhance the role of Harlow Town Centre and, as such, the policies seek the sub-division of units.
4.4 Proposals for retail development and other large attractors of people such as commercial, leisure, entertainment and offices open to the public, will be determined using the sequential approach to their siting. This will ensure that sites in the Town Centre are considered in the first instance, followed by edge-of-centre, then Neighbourhoods and Hatches. Out-of-centre locations will only be considered as a last resort. Development must be appropriate to the function, size and character of the centre.
4.5 This chapter and the policies contained within it will help deliver the following Corporate Priorities:
- Regeneration and a thriving economy
- Successful children and young people
4.6 This chapter and the policies contained within it will help deliver the following Local Plan Strategic Objectives:
- Objective 7 – Meet the employment needs of the district by diversifying and investing in the district's employment base
- Objective 8 – Secure economic revitalisation and reinforce Harlow's reputation as a key centre for Research and Development
- Objective 9 – Improve educational opportunities and the skills base of local residents
- Objective 10 – Provide a range of shopping needs for local residents and the wider sub-region by regenerating the Town Centre and protecting and enhancing Neighbourhood Centres and Hatches
PR1Development within Employment Areas
Development in Employment Areas, as allocated on the Policies Map, will be supported where:
(a) it is for the provision of offices, research and development, light or general industrial, warehouse or distribution within the use classes B1, B2 and B8; or
(b) it is for uses other than B1, B2 and B8 it meets all the following criteria:
(i) evidence has been provided to demonstrate that the unit has been vacant and actively marketed to the satisfaction of the Council for at least one year and there is no prospect of B1, B2 and B8 uses occupying the unit or any other more suitable alternative sites being available for the proposal;
(ii) the development will increase the number of jobs for local residents;
(iii) the development provides a complementary benefit to the employment area or an ancillary benefit to an existing business, and would not have an adverse effect on the overall provision of employment land; and
(iv) where the development is for the sub-division of units into smaller units, that the resulting unit is flexible and the division is reversible.
4.7 Similarly to Ebenezer Howard's plans for Garden Cities, Sir Frederick Gibberd designed Harlow New Town to separate employment areas from residential areas to ensure the health and wellbeing of residents. Sufficient employment areas were allocated to meet the needs of local residents and reduce out-commuting, offering a wide range of jobs to create a well-balanced community. Therefore, this policy aims to maintain and enhance these principles.
4.8 In recognition of Harlow residents' employment needs, specific areas have been designated Enterprise Zone status by the Government. Local Development Orders on the Enterprise Zones promote and guide specific employment uses and activities. The Local Development Order for the northern part of the London Road Zone, for example, supports a mix of retail, leisure and employment uses in an appropriate zone with a separate area for research and development and industrial uses. In the future, if it is identified in a regeneration strategy or development brief, other uses will be supported.
4.9 This policy sets out a general presumption against the loss of office, industrial or distribution/warehouse uses from the district's allocated employment areas. There may be exceptions to this where proposals support existing employment uses, such as trade counters or training/testing facilities.
4.10 Proposals for non-B uses should be accompanied by a planning statement to address all the following:
(a) details of the existing use and the proposed use and how it operates;
(b) limitations of the site including its buildings and land for Class B uses;
(c) whether investment would enable the site to be used for Class B uses;
(d) why the proposal cannot be provided in a more suitable location;
(e) an assessment of current and potential future market demand for the site, building or premises in question which should reflect current economic trends, future forecasts changes and actual attempts to market the site, building or premises in question;
(f) any other considerations including economic viability.
4.11 In reference to criteria (d) above, locations which the Council consider to be more suitable will be determined by the type and scale of use being proposed. For example, a retail use would be located in Harlow Town Centre in the first instance and then to Neighbourhood Areas and Hatches. Marketing of an employment site, as set out in criteria (e) above, must be undertaken by a suitably competent person for at least one year.
Development in the Neighbourhood Service Areas, as allocated on the Policies Map, will be supported where:
(a) it is for the provision of offices, light industrial uses and start-up units falling within use class B1;
(b) it is for uses other than B1 and evidence has been provided to demonstrate that the unit has been vacant and actively marketed to the satisfaction of the Council for at least 12 months or for an appropriate period of time agreed with the Council, and that there is no realistic prospect of B1 uses occupying the unit or any other more suitable alternative sites being available for the proposal;
(c) it does not involve the amalgamation of units in Neighbourhood Service Areas into larger units and meets criteria (a) or (b).
4.12 The district's Neighbourhood Service Areas provide important employment provision at the neighbourhood level and are well suited to meet the needs of small start-up businesses, with units of approximately 20 to 40 sq m in size being typically available. Such units provide opportunities to accommodate first time businesses and can help to reduce inappropriate business uses proliferating in residential areas, particularly those which affect the amenity of residents.
4.13 The majority of local businesses in Harlow (84%, Nomis 2015) have fewer than 10 employees and therefore there is a pressing need for starter units, in order to accommodate smaller teams of staff, to reduce overheads and to use space efficiently. This policy aims to protect Neighbourhood Service Areas and the provision of office, light industrial and research.
4.14 This policy sets out a general presumption against the loss of B1 uses. It also encourages more flexible employment accommodation in Neighbourhood Service Areas. Their proximity to retail and residential areas mean that there may be exceptions to this.
4.15 Proposals for non-B1 uses should be accompanied by a planning statement setting out information on the following matters:
(a) details of the existing use and the proposed use and how it operates;
(b) limitations of the site including its buildings and land for Class B1;
(c) whether investment would enable the site to be used for Class B1;
(d) why the proposal cannot be provided in more suitable locations;
(e) current and potential future market demand for the site, building or premises in question which should reflect current economic trends, future forecasts changes and actual attempts to market the site, building or premises in question;
(f) any other relevant considerations such as economic viability.
4.16 In reference to criteria (d) above, locations which the Council consider to be more suitable will be determined on the type and scale of use being proposed. For example, a retail use will be better located in Harlow Town Centre in the first instance and then to Neighbourhood Areas and Hatches. Marketing of an employment site, as set out in criteria (e) above, must be undertaken by a suitably competent person. The Council will determine how long a marketing exercise should be on a case-by-case basis.
PR3 Employment Development outside Employment Areas and Neighbourhood Service Areas
1. Provision of employment floorspace
Employment development outside Employment Areas and Neighbourhood Service Areas will be supported where:
(a) the proposal seeks to redevelop an established employment site, subject to the impact upon the amenity of the surrounding area, road congestion and movement;
(b) B1 office uses are proposed above ground floor level in the Town Centre.
2. Loss of employment floorspace
Development resulting in the loss of B1, B2, B8 and waste uses will not be supported outside of the district's Employment Areas and Neighbourhood Service Areas unless it meets the following criteria:
(a) the proposed use is of overall benefit to the local community;
(b) evidence has been provided to demonstrate that the employment use is no longer viable;
(c) evidence has been provided to demonstrate that the unit or site has been vacant and actively marketed to the satisfaction of the Council for at least 12 months or for an appropriate period of time agreed with the Council, and that there is no prospect of employment uses occupying the unit or site.
4.17 Employment Areas and Neighbourhood Service Areas are the main focus of employment provision in Harlow and contain a mix of accommodation for a range of business types.
4.18 Harlow Town Centre also contains a number of office buildings, which not only provide jobs for the local area and beyond, but also reinforce the vitality of the Town Centre by increasing footfall in addition to that associated with day time shoppers and other visitors. Office uses above ground floor and outside of primary retail frontages will, therefore, be encouraged.
4.19 B2 and B8 use classes will not be considered appropriate outside of these areas due to their impact on the amenity of an area in terms of general disturbance, noise and vehicle movements.
4.20 There will be instances where the loss of an employment use or the provision of a new employment use outside of strategic employment sites and Neighbourhood Service Areas may be considered appropriate. This policy sets out the criteria for how such proposals will be determined.
PR4 Improving Job Access and Training
For major development, provision through planning obligations will be sought for:
- employment of local people;
- work related training provision;
- education opportunities;
- affordable childcare.
4.21 This policy actively looks to generate new job opportunities for local residents as a direct result of the growth in the district and to secure regeneration in Harlow. This policy focuses on new job opportunities that the development will create, either as long term posts or temporary labour, and improving work related training and education. The aim is to get local residents back into work and to improve their skills level.
4.22 Job opportunities may include long-term job creation, temporary job creation through the construction of a development, work experience and placements, apprenticeships and pre-employment training scheme placements. The policy also actively seeks the provision of childcare schemes in employment generating proposals.
4.23 The policy will be applied to major developments and secured through a planning obligation, tailored to individual schemes. Applicants should prepare an action plan setting out a schedule of new job opportunities to be created through the proposed development, the process by which jobs will be advertised to local people and the method in which the provision of jobs for local residents will be monitored. For employment generating developments, the action plan should also outline training provision, education opportunities and childcare support. Where possible, the action plan should extend to all sub-contractors.
PR5 The Sequential Test and Principles for Main Town Centre Uses
1. Sequential Approach to Main Town Centre Uses
Unless identified in an adopted Development Plan Document or Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) or development brief, development of Main Town Centre Uses must be directed in the first instance to the Town Centre unless there are no suitable or available sites. Neighbourhood Centres, and then Hatches, must be considered before any Main Town Centre Uses are directed to Retail Park locations.
2. General Principles for Main Town Centre Uses
Main Town Centre Uses within the Town Centre, Neighbourhood Centres, Hatches and Retail Parks will be supported where all the following criteria are met:
(a) the sequential approach is satisfied;
(b) an active frontage is achieved at the ground floor;
(c) the vitality and viability of the retail centre is preserved and enhanced to provide facilities and services for local residents; and
(d) it is well related to public transport facilities, or is located where appropriate provision for sustainable transport can be provided.
4.24 The vitality and viability of the Town Centre is important to the local economy and to ensure it is an attractive place for residents, employees and visitors. This is particularly pertinent as the services and facilities available also serve a catchment area that extends beyond the district boundary. The Town Centre is a sustainable transport hub, well-served by public transport, which has good connectivity with key locations along the London Stansted Cambridge corridor. This policy directs Main Town Centre Uses towards the Town Centre in order to preserve and/or enhance its position.
4.25 In the retail hierarchy of Harlow, subservient to the Town Centre are the Neighbourhood Centres, followed by Hatches, which reflect the principles and hierarchy of the original New Town which ensure different types of retail provision are provided to meet local needs.
4.26 The Strategic Policies set out the hierarchy of retail centres in Harlow and this is the hierarchy in which Main Town Centre Uses should be directed to first before any out of Town Centre sites are considered.
4.27 Proposals for retail and leisure uses outside of the Town Centre which exceed 500 sq m in size will be required to be supported by an impact assessment demonstrating that the proposal will not have a negative impact on the vitality and viability of existing centres and that the development increases overall sustainability and accessibility. This is to support the Town Centre's market share and to prevent the decline of the retail offer. This ensures that any potential impacts of retail and leisure uses outside of the Town Centre are fully assessed.
4.28 This policy seeks to maintain active frontages in the Town Centre to provide an attractive environment for pedestrians. Active frontages could include display windows, entrance points, façade design or clear glazing. Blank and inaccessible frontages should be avoided.
4.29 In considering proposals in Neighbourhood Centres and Hatches, reference should be made to the Adopted Harlow Design Guide SPD and any associated regeneration strategy or development brief.
PR6Primary and Secondary Frontages in the Town Centre
1. Primary Frontages
Development in the Town Centre primary frontages will only be supported where:
(a) the development is for A1 class use;
(b) the development is for use classes A2 or A3 and meets all of the following criteria:
(i) 60% or more of the overall primary frontage length is retained for A1 uses; and
(ii) the site has been vacant and actively marketed to the satisfaction of the Council for at least twelve months.
2. Secondary Frontages
Main Town Centre Uses (with the exception of office uses), evening and night-time uses will be supported in the Town Centre secondary frontages.
4.30 Primary and secondary retail frontages protect and enhance the existing retail offer by preventing a proliferation of uses which are not conducive to maintaining the vitality and viability of the Town Centre. Defining frontage lengths and classifying appropriate uses in frontages provide opportunities to regenerate and improve certain parts of the Town Centre and protect retail provision in others.
4.31 This policy supports main Town Centre uses including commercial leisure, evening and night-time uses in secondary frontages where it is considered appropriate and where it strengthens the role of the Town Centre as a sub-regional centre.
4.32 Where marketing of the unit is required to justify a non-A1 use in the primary frontage, it should be undertaken by a suitably competent person for at least one year. A planning statement must be submitted setting out how this marketing exercise has been undertaken.
4.33 Within secondary frontages, main Town Centre uses will be considered acceptable except for office development which is considered appropriate only on first floor levels and above. This is to prevent blank ground floor frontages in the Town Centre that could harm the vitality of the area. For proposals relating to evening and night time uses, Policy PR11 should also be taken into consideration.
PR7 Sub-division and Internal Alteration of Town Centre Units
The sub-division of retail units in the Town Centre and the internal alteration of existing retail units will be supported where both the following criteria are met:
a) for units larger than 2,500 sq m, evidence has been provided to demonstrate that the unit has been actively marketed to the satisfaction of the Council for at least two years;
b) the sub-division or internal alteration would retain an active frontage.
4.34 In order to retain Harlow Town Centre's status as a sub-regional centre, it is important that it is able to provide a mix of retail unit sizes in order to ensure choice and attract a mix of occupiers. This policy aims to retain the Town Centre's larger retail units and to manage the sub-division of these units where it is considered appropriate.
4.35 The 2017 Retail and Leisure Needs Study identified the former department store as providing an opportunity to introduce a new anchor operator in the Town Centre and that the lack of a department store represents a significant gap in the retail offer available in the town. The policy therefore seeks to retain these larger units in order to provide opportunities to attract an anchor store or department store.
4.36 In circumstances where sub-division is sought for units above 2,500 sq m in size, a marketing exercise must be undertaken by a suitably competent person for a period of at least two years. A planning statement must be submitted setting out how this has been undertaken. This will demonstrate to the Council that the unit has not been able to attract retail operators who are more likely to act as anchors or which provide department store size facilities.
4.37 The threshold of 2,500 sq m has been calculated based on an assessment of existing Town Centre units which are considered large enough to accommodate such services or which are located at anchor points in the town i.e. close to high footfall levels and/or interchange facilities.
PR8 Primary and Secondary Frontages in
1. Primary Frontages
Development in primary frontages in Neighbourhood Centres will be supported where it meets one of the following criteria:
(a) the development is A1 class use;
(b) the development is for A2, A3, A4, A5 uses and would not result in more than two adjacent units being in the same use class other than A1;
(c) the development is for D1, D2 or Sui Generis uses, the site has been vacant and actively marketed to the satisfaction of the Council for at least twelve months and development would not result in more than two adjacent units being in the same use class other than A1.
In addition, development must meet both the criteria below:
(d) the development must result in 60 % or more of the overall primary frontage length being retained in A1 use; and
(e) the development would not result in the loss of key facilities that act as anchors or catalysts which assist in retaining existing or attracting new operators in the Neighbourhood Centre such as supermarkets or public houses.
2. Secondary Frontages
Development in secondary frontages in Neighbourhood Centres, which falls in use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, D1, D2, Sui Generis and C3, will be supported where it meets both of the following criteria:
(a) for non-A1 ground floor uses, the development would not result in more than two adjacent units being in the same use class; and
(b) for C3 uses, the development is on the first floor or above.
4.38 Primary and secondary retail frontages in Neighbourhood Centres fulfil the same function and role as they do in the Town Centre in that they prevent an unacceptably high proportion of uses which are not conducive to the key role of these local centres. Defining frontages and what uses are considered acceptable within them provide opportunities to regenerate Neighbourhood Centres and retain a mix of facilities and services.
4.39 The policy seeks to support a wider range of services and facilities within Neighbourhood Centres for local residents. These Centres provide services, such as healthcare, places to eat and drink and financial services. It is important that Neighbourhood Centres continue to have a variety of uses to avoid underused frontages and spaces.
4.40 Where marketing of the unit is required to justify a non-retail use in the primary frontage, it should be undertaken by a suitably qualified person for at least one year. A planning statement must be submitted setting out how the marketing exercise has been undertaken.
4.41 The definition of frontage length and the method by which frontage length will be calculated will be set out in a Supplementary Planning Document.
PR9 Development in Hatches
Development in Hatches will be supported where it meets both of the criteria below:
(a) development at ground floor level falls within use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, D1 or D2 or a mix of these uses and does not result in the loss of all convenience facilities, public houses and community facilities; and
(b) development on the first floor or above falls within use classes B1(a) or C3.
4.42 Hatches are a key feature of Harlow's residential areas. They are allocated on the Policies Map and cater for the daily needs of communities within approximately a 400 metre walk of homes. Hatches are usually based around a primary school or local open space and contain around four to five individual retail units, community facilities and public houses which often provide a focus for community activities.
4.43 This policy aims to retain key local facilities which support the vitality and viability of the Hatches. Development proposals that would undermine and erode the function of Hatches would not be supported.
4.44 A number of Hatches now require investment or renewal and for those that have already been regenerated, a mix of uses have been provided as a result, including residential and office space. The Strategic Policies provide for comprehensive redevelopment of Hatches.
4.45 This policy supports a diverse mix of uses in the Hatches in order to assist in their regeneration and renewal. However in order to maintain their local service functions and community focus, the policy protects community type facilities. These facilities include public houses, convenience stores such as grocers and butchers, community halls and healthcare facilities.
PR10 Development in Retail Parks
Development in Retail Parks will be supported where it meets all of the following criteria:
(a) the sequential approach is satisfied;
(b) the development is in use class A1 and is for the sale of bulky goods, or provides leisure activities; and
(c) any sub-division does not result in any separate retail unit being less than 1,000 sqm in size.
For sub-division, evidence must be provided to demonstrate that the existing unit has been actively marketed, to the satisfaction of the Council, for at least twelve months.
4.46 National policies and guidance set out the need for a sequential test in order to maintain Town Centre vitality and viability. This ensures that where possible, retail and leisure outlets will locate in the Town Centre before being granted permission in an out of town location. The results of the most recent analysis of retail provision in Harlow show that new requirements for retail floorspace should be focused on the Town Centre.
4.47 To promote this principle, this policy ensures that retail units for the sale of non-bulky goods are directed to smaller units in the Town Centre, Neighbourhood Centres and Hatches. The policy, therefore, restricts the sub-division of Retail Park units.
4.48 The term 'bulky goods' can include DIY goods, furniture, hard and soft furnishings, homewares, fabrics, durable household goods, floor coverings, leisure and garden products, motor accessories and electrical goods. Leisure activities include cinemas, dance halls, gyms and indoor sports centres, but do not include eating and drinking establishments. These definitions are not exhaustive.
4.49 The policy does support the sub-division of existing units in the Retail Park subject to the sub-division not resulting in a separate unit being less than 1,000 sqm. It is considered that this figure would allow larger units to be divided whilst still having the flexibility to offer space for bulky goods and mitigating the impact on the Town Centre's viability and vitality.
PR11 Evening and Night Time Economy
1. Sequential Test
Evening and night time uses must be directed to the Town Centre first, then to Neighbourhood Centres and then to Hatches, and applicants must demonstrate that this sequential approach has been undertaken.
2. Development Principles
Evening and night time uses will be supported where they meet both the following criteria:
(a) it can be proven that the development will have a positive effect on the vitality and viability of the retail centre, its night-time economy and the local area; and
(b) mitigation through legal agreements or conditions to minimise negative impacts of the development on the local area.
4.50 The evening and night time economy is important to wider regeneration objectives, employment creation and maintaining and improving the quality of life for residents and visitors.
4.51 There are many benefits to promoting such activities. The leisure and entertainment industry provides employment, in particular for young people. A busy, vibrant Town Centre, in both the daytime and evening, can improve the quality and ambience of the Town Centre, and improve wider public perception to secure investment.
4.52 Where there may be potential negative impacts associated with evening and night time uses, the Council will seek to mitigate this through legal agreements or conditions to ensure the development does not lead to significant problems such as crime, anti-social behaviour, litter and noise nuisance.
4.53 Evening activities include drinking establishments, restaurants and pubs that are open in the evening. Late night activities include night clubs and drinking establishments which are often open beyond midnight. This list is not exhaustive and the Council has the discretion to determine what constitutes evening and late night activities.
4.54 The location of evening and night time establishments will be considered carefully and would only be permitted where they would not give rise to unacceptable amenity and environmental impacts which could not be overcome by the imposition of conditions. Where necessary, planning permission will be granted subject to conditions restricting opening and/or removing permitted development rights to change to alternative uses, in order to protect the amenity of surrounding occupants and the viability and vitality of the area generally. The location of the proposal must also comply with Policy PR6.
4.55 In terms of noise, an impact assessment may be required, taking into account the context of the site, in particular its proximity to existing residential developments.