Draft Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report

Ended on the 15th January 2010
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12 Historic environment

12.1 Introduction

12.1.1 Conservation of the historic environment involves more than just protection of individual features. Rather, England has a rich historic interest engrained in landscapes and townscapes at a range of scales. This is not something that lends itself easily to objective, evidence based identification of sustainability issues, but is something that cannot be ignored.

12.1.2 Spatial planning mechanisms can directly influence the historic environment and also, as a result, have knock on effects on sustainability issues relating to community and wellbeing (see chapter 10) and landscape (see chapter 15) in particular. The historic environment is important to help sustain a sense of local distinctiveness and place and can also make a significant contribution to the local economy.

12.2 What’s the policy context?

12.2.1 PPS1: on Delivering Sustainable Development202 highlights the need to protect and enhance the historic environment. PPG15: Planning and the historic environment (1994)203 states that planning policies can not only reduce threats to the historic environment but also increase its contribution to local amenity. Heritage can also act as a catalyst for regeneration204 . PPG16 highlights the need to reconcile development pressures with the interests of archaeology and historic conservation. It further emphasises the principle of early assessment to ensure that remains are not needlessly destroyed, that development proposals take into account archaeological interest and that important remains are preserved in situ.

12.2.2 Draft PPS15: Planning for the Historic Environment consultation closes at the end of October 2009 and will replace PPG15 and PPG16: Archaeology and Planning. It is intended to reflect a more modern, integrated approach which defines the historic environment in terms of heritage assets to be conserved in accordance with a set of principles and in proportion to their significance - it also separates policy from guidance.

12.2.3 The issue of the historic environment is a cross-cutting theme within the East of England Plan205 and several policies and their supportive text make reference to its protection and utilisation for purposes such as cultural promotion and tourism. Policy ENV6: The Historic Environment provides direct guidance for LPAs and instructs them to identify, protect, conserve, and, where appropriate, enhance the region’s historic environment. Clearly it is not the role of the LDF to provide all these functions however, spatial planning will play a key part in the preservation of Harlow’s historic environment primarily through the protection of certain key areas through sound, evidence-based studies. The policy also provides a holistic definition of the region’s historic environment as its “archaeology, historic buildings, places and landscapes, including historic parks and gardens and those features and sites (and their settings) especially significant in the East of England." In addition, Policy ENV7: Quality in the Built Environment provides criteria that new development should achieve in order to be of high quality and complement the distinctive character and best qualities of the location area it is located and to promote urban renaissance and regeneration.

12.2.4 Harlow – now a former new town – was designated as a New Town in 1947. The now outdated Local Plan set out the intention to plan for Harlow whilst carrying on the aims and objectives forward into the 21st Century as set out in the original Master Plan by Sir Frederick Gibberd. The Draft Regeneration Strategy for Harlow206 aims to “grasp the opportunity that growth offers to regenerate the town whilst retaining the best of its original design, neighbourhoods, green spaces and community spirit".

12.3 What are the key objectives and other decision-making criteria that we need to consider?

12.3.1 Many of the objectives set out in the Integrated Regional Sustainability Framework for the East of England – see Table 2 – are relevant in considering future impacts on Harlow’s town centre. Particularly relevant objectives include:

  • Conserve, restore and enhance the region’s natural and built environment

12.3.2 Harlow also has a number of key priorities for 2009/10 to 2012/13 as outlined in the Council’s Sustainability Strategy and approved in January 2009 by the Environment and Community Committee207: The piorities are not particularly relevant to the historic environment however, as part of this topic, it will be important to consider:

  • Regenerating the Town

12.4 What’s the situation now? (including any existing problems)

12.4.1 Harlow District is largely urban and its historical value is largely reflected in its designation as a New Town in 1947. The layout and architecture of the town is strongly linked to the concepts set out in Sir Frederick Gibberd’s Master Plan.

12.4.2 There are a number of historic environment constraints in Harlow and the surrounding area, as shown in Figure 16.

Figure 16: Historic environment constraints in Harlow District and surrounding area

Figure 16

12.4.3 Figure 16 illustrates that Harlow has a large number of listed buildings scattered throughout the town and wider area. There are currently 173 listed buildings within Harlow that are of special architectural or historic interest, particularly given Harlow’s status as a former New Town. Five of the buildings are classified as Grade I, eight are Grade II* and 160 Grade II208.

12.4.4 A number of Conservation Areas are situated in the centre, north and east of the town. Conservation Areas within Harlow include209:

  • Old Harlow

  • Churchgate Street

  • Netteswellbury

  • Mark Hall North

  • Town Park/Netteswell Cross

  • Harlowbury

  • Puffers Green

  • Harlow Mill & Old Road North

  • Tye Green.

12.4.5 The map illustrates three large areas within the northeast of the town around Harlow Mill Station Harlow District where Scheduled Ancient Monuments are located. Located outside of the District are three more distinct areas of SAMs to the north and a further two areas to the south. In addition to a number of undesignated sites of existing or potential archaeological importance, Harlow Council recognises a total of 11 SAMs in the District210:

  • Chapel at Harlowbury

  • Harlow Roman Temple

  • Netteswellbury Barn, Netteswell

  • Little Parndon moated site

  • Site of Parndon Hall

  • Harlowbury deserted medieval village

  • Bowl barrow; 230m north of Harlow Hospital, 140m north of Harlow Hospital; 110m north-east of Harlow Hospital

  • Cursus, south of Gilden Way

  • Roman villa, 500m north-east of Harlowbury

  • Bowl barrow, 240m north of The Kennels

  • Passmores House moated site, immediately south of Todd Brook.

12.4.6 There is a single registered Park and Garden in Harlow (The House, Marsh Lane) deemed by English Heritage to have special landscape or historical interest. It is located in the extreme northeast of the District border (see Figure 16). A similar designation is located nearby but bordering the outside of the District, and also to the north of Roydon northwest of the District.

Are there any evidence gaps?

12.4.7 No evidence gaps have been identified at this stage.

12.5 What will be the situation without the plan? (the ‘business-as-usual’ option)

12.5.1 High levels of growth are planned and, without a Core Strategy, the numerous designated and non-designated sites of historical importance might be threatened. In addition, Gibberd’s Master Plan is important to the design and historic feel of Harlow as a former New Town, and a lack of plan may result in development not in keeping with these concepts or a long-term directional change away from this plan. It is also worth noting that opportunities might be lost for the historic environment to contribute towards sustainable forms of growth and the cultural regeneration of the town.

12.6 What issues should be a particular focus for the appraisal?

12.6.1 In light of the information above, key issues to take into account in the appraisal in relation to the historic environment include:

  • The need to protect the district’s historic environmental assets from inappropriate development

  • That development should respect the character, appearance and features of historical designations, in addition to the setting and views in to or out of these areas.

  • The need to consider the original concept and design for Harlow as a former New Town.


202 ODPM (2005) Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development [online] available at:
www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/planningpolicystatement1 (accessed 21 July 2009).

203 CLG (1994) Planning Policy Guidance 15: Planning and the Historic Environment [online] available at:
www.communities.gov.uk/planningandbuilding/planning/planningpolicyguidance/historicenvironment/ppg15/ (accessed 23 June 2009).

204 DCMS (2001) The historic environment: a force for our future [online] available at:
www.culture.gov.uk/reference_library/publications/4667.aspx/ (accessed 21 July 2009).

205 GOEE (2008) East of England Plan [online] available at:
www.gos.gov.uk/goeast/planning/regional_planning/ (accessed 18 August 2009).

206 Harlow Council (undated) Harlow (Draft) Regeneration Strategy 2009-2021 [not available online].

207 Harlow Council (2009) Harlow Sustainability Strategy [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/corporate_services/policy_and_performance/sustainability_strategy.aspx (accessed 13 August 2009).

208 Harlow Council (2006) Adopted Replacement Harlow Local Plan [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/environment/planning/harlow_replacement_local_plan.aspx (accessed 19 August 2009).

209 Harlow Council (2006) Adopted Replacement Harlow Local Plan [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/environment/planning/harlow_replacement_local_plan.aspx (accessed 19 August 2009).

210 Harlow Council (2006) Adopted Replacement Harlow Local Plan [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/environment/planning/harlow_replacement_local_plan.aspx (accessed 19 August 2009).

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