Draft Sustainability Appraisal Scoping Report

Ended on the 15th January 2010
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(1) 14 Land

14.1 Introduction

14.1.1 Harlow is the smallest District in Essex, covering an area of approximately 31 square kilometres. The District is predominantly an urban area – the most densely populated District in Essex and is located in the southwest of the East of England region adjacent to the county of Hertfordshire. Harlow is a former New Town that contains unique Green Wedges (linear open spaces creating discrete neighbourhoods) and also areas of Green Belt on the periphery of the town and District.

14.1.2 Waste has traditionally been seen as an unavoidable by-product of increased prosperity and economic activity. In more recent years the development of new products and materials, and changes in the way they are used has led to a steady growth in the amount and a change in the nature of the waste produced. Disposal of waste has been predominantly to landfill, which has led to environmental problems, including greenhouse gas emissions and liquid pollutants (although modern landfill sites are now much more highly regulated). More recently, increasing concern about the environmental impacts of landfill has led to investigation into alternatives that are more sustainable. Integrated waste management planning is now seen as best practice. Integrated or sustainable waste management attempts to segregate the various components of the waste stream and to manage each in an environmentally sound and economically efficient manner, making use of waste as a resource wherever possible.

(1) 14.2 What’s the policy context?


14.2.1 PPS3 on Housing241 sets a national target that 60% of new dwellings should be built on previously developed land. It also suggests that the density of new residential dwellings should be at least 30 dwellings per hectare to help ensure efficient use of land. The East of England Plan supports this policy and with reference to the phasing of housing development Policy H3 states that “the re-use of previously developed land and buildings will be promoted as the first priority". Additionally, Policy SS2 states that 60% of development is to be on previously developed land (this encompasses all development, not just housing). The approach to the location of major development must prioritise the re-use of previously developed land in and around urban areas to the fullest extent possible.

14.2.2 PPG2: Green Belts242 contains a presumption against any development in the green belt that detracts from its purposes which are:

  • To check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;

  • To prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another;

  • To assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;

  • To preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and

  • To assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

14.2.3 In the East of England Plan Policy SS7: Green Belt states that the broad extent of green belts in the East of England is appropriate and should be maintained. However, it adds that strategic reviews of green belts are needed in several areas to meet regional development needs at the most sustainable locations. This includes Harlow, involving land in Harlow, East Herts and Epping Forest Districts; and reviews covering more than one local authority should be undertaken through a joint of co-ordinated approach. The Plan adds that the Harlow review should identify compensating strategic extensions to the green belt in East Herts.

14.2.4 PPS7 on Sustainable Development in Rural Areas states that new development in the open countryside should be strictly controlled and that priority should be giving to the re-use of previously developed or brownfield land, except in cases where there are no brownfield sites available or these brownfield sites perform poorly in terms of sustainability in comparison with greenfield sites, including accessibility by public transport, walking and cycling, high quality design and inclusiveness. PPS7 also mentions that where significant development of agricultural land is unavoidable, areas of poorer quality should be used in preference to the best and most versatile agricultural land (grades 1, 2 and 3a of the Agricultural Land Classification). Development plans should include policies that identify any major areas of agricultural land planned for developments and may also include policies that protect the best and most versatile areas from development.

14.2.5 The 1990 Environmental Protection Act requires local authorities to secure the appropriate remediation of contaminated land and to maintain a register of contaminated land.

14.2.6 Policy ENV4 of the East of England Plan states that agri-environment schemes should be promoted to “maintain and enhance the quality of soils", and that the sustainable use of soil resources should be encouraged, and where soil and land have been degraded, there is the need to maximise opportunities for restoration to beneficial after-uses such as agriculture, woodland, amenity and habitat creation schemes.

14.2.7 The Harlow Green Infrastructure Plan (GIP)243 and the Harlow Green Spaces Strategy244 refer to Green Wedges and Green Belt as part of Harlow’s green space. Both of these documents are discussed within the policy context for Chapter 8 Biodiversity and Green Infrastructure.


14.2.8 According to PPS10 Planning for Sustainable Waste Management (2005)245 all planning authorities should, to the extent appropriate to their responsibilities, prepare and deliver planning strategies that:

  • help deliver sustainable development through driving waste management up the waste hierarchy, addressing waste as a resource and looking to disposal as the last option, but one which must be adequately catered for;

  • enable sufficient and timely provision of waste management facilities to meet the needs of their communities;

  • help secure the recovery or disposal of waste without endangering human health and without harming the environment, and enable waste to be disposed of in one of the nearest appropriate installations;

  • protect green belts but recognise the particular locational needs of some types of waste management facilities when defining detailed green belt boundaries; and

  • ensure the design and layout of new development supports sustainable waste management.

14.2.9 The East of England Plan sets out targets for waste management (Policy WM2). The objectives are to eliminate the landfilling of untreated municipal and commercial waste by 2021 and secure at least the following minimum levels of recovery:

  • Municipal waste – recovery of 50% at 2010 and 70% at 2015;

  • Commercial and industrial waste – recovery of 72% at 2010 and 75% at 2015.

14.2.10 Essex County Council has pledged to increase recycling of waste to over 45% in 2009, over 50% in the next three years, and towards a long term aim of 60% by 2020. Harlow District is a member of the Essex Waste Partnership. The Essex Waste Strategy246 states that Essex authorities will work hard to reduce the amount of waste produced and to increase re-use of waste. The county favours composting technologies for organic wastes, and the introduction of new Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) plants to dispose of additional waste. An action plan is in preparation.

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

14.3.1 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:

  • Promote sustainable growth within environmental limits

  • Increase resource efficiency and reduce resource use and waste

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

14.3.2 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 Committee247. Relevant priorities include:

  • Promoting a clean, green, healthy and safe environment.

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

14.4.1 Although Harlow is primarily an urban area, Figure 18 illustrates the large areas of Green Belt and Green Wedges in Harlow. These areas prevent neighbourhood coalescence, shaping the unique character of Harlow town and its sense of community, and also shaping development. Green Belt is located on the peripheries of the District, whereas Green Wedges distinguish the neighbourhoods in the centre of the District. The Gibberd plan shaped the development of Harlow and was based on the concept of self-sufficient neighbourhoods. It allowed for the designation of large landscaped areas or ‘Green Wedges’ to separate out neighbourhoods and compensate for smaller garden spaces; these remain a “fundamental element of the network of green spaces within Harlow". The town also contains a Town Park and other smaller green spaces of ‘internal open space’ exist within the residential and business areas of the town in addition to areas of ‘incidental open space’248.

Figure 18: Land constraints in Harlow

Figure 18

14.4.2 The Agricultural Land Classification for Harlow District is that of an urban area (see Figure 19 below), however; the periphery of the District and the neighbouring areas contain land of a high agricultural quality (Grade 2 and Grade 3) and are of a traditional farmland character. The soil types on the periphery of the District include: surface water gleys to the southwest; pelosols to the south and east, and; water and brown soils to the northwest and northeast249.

Figure 19: Agricultural Land Classification250

Figure 19

14.4.3 The waste and recycling performance of Harlow is compared against other authorities within the county in Table 20, using the National Indicators (NIs) that took effect from April 2008. Although the amount of residual waste per household in Harlow is below the county average, Harlow has the fourth highest value amongst the districts. In terms of household waste sent for reuse, recycling, composting or anaerobic digestion (AD), Harlow (23.88%) is considerably below the county average (38.07%) and sends the second least of the authorities in Essex. Harlow also sends the second most waste to landfill of all the authorities in Essex (76.12%), notably more than the county average (60.24%).

Table 20: Waste and Recycling performance of Harlow within Essex 2007/08251

Residual household waste per household (not recycled, composted, reduced of sent for AD) (kg) – NI191 Household waste sent for reuse, recycling, composting or AD (%) – NI192 Municipal waste landfilled (%) – NI193













Castle Point












Epping Forest




Harlow 627 23.88 76.12

















Essex CC (RCHW only) 117 51.63 42.62
Essex Total (incl. RCHW) 722 38.07 60.24

14.4.4 In Harlow, the amount of domestic waste recycled or composted increased (approximately) from 21% in 2006/07 to 24% in 2007/08. Harlow does not operate a full kerbside green waste collection service, as it is considered that this brings extra waste in to the waste stream that could be composted at home. This could contribute to poorer performance figures against other authorities and the Harlow 2020 Partnership considers the District’s performance to be good overall for dry recycling, given that it operates this system. Another positive trend is that the amount of household waste collected per head of the population reduced by approximately 2.6% for 2007/08252.

Are there any evidence gaps?

14.4.5 The location of contaminated land within the district is not currently available.

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

14.5.1 Without the Core Strategy Harlow may develop areas of land that are not the most sustainable option and that may not be in keeping with the Green Belt and Green Wedges that characterise the District. In addition, the District may not close the gap with the rest of the county in terms of effectively dealing with the waste that it generates.

(1) 14.6 What issues should be a particular focus for the appraisal?

14.6.1 In light of the information above, key issues to take into account in the appraisal in relation to land include:

  • To ensure that development takes into account the Green Belt and Green Wedges that characterise the District

  • The need to identify, avoid and if appropriate remediate contaminated land in the district

  • That the District’s achievements in reduce, re-use and recycling of waste, are poor in comparison to the county average.

241 ODPM (2000) Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing [online] available at:
www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/pps3housing (accessed 17 July 2009).

242 ODPM (1995, amended 2001) Planning Policy Statement 2: Green Belt [online] available at:
www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/ppg2 (accessed 22 July 2009).

243 Chris Blandford Associates on behalf of Harlow Council (2005) Green Infrastructure Plan [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/Default.aspx?page=8615 (accessed 13 August 2009).

244 Nortoft et al. on behalf of Harlow Council (2004) Harlow District Council Green Spaces Strategy. [not available]

245 CLG (2005) Planning Policy Statement 10: Planning for Sustainable Waste Management [online] available at:
www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planningandbuilding/pdf/147411.pdf (accessed 1 July 2009).

246 Essex County Council (undated) Essex Waste Strategy 2007-2032 [online] available at:
www.essexcc.gov.uk/vip8/ecc/ECCWebsite/content/binaries/documents/Waste_Strategy_-_version_approved_by_ECC_Full_Council_on_15.07.08.pdf?channelOid=null (accessed 3 September 2009).

247 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).

248 Nortoft et al. on behalf of Harlow Council (2004) Harlow District Council Green Spaces Strategy [not available online]

249 Chris Blandford Associates (2004) Harlow Area Landscape and Environment Study [online] available at:
www.harlow.gov.uk/about_the_council/council_services/environment/planning/local_development_framework/harlow_area_landscape_study.aspx (accessed 3 September 2009).

250 Source: MAGIC (2009) Agricultural Land Classification [online] available at:
www.magic.gov.uk (accessed 3 September 2009).

251 Source: Essex County Council (undated) Joint Municipal Waste Management Strategy for Essex (2007 to 2032) [online] available at:
www.essexcc.gov.uk/vip8/ecc/ECCWebsite/dis/gui.jsp?channelOid=16959&guideOid=43565 (accessed 3 September 2009).

252 Harlow 2020 Partnership (2008) Harlow 2020 Vision – Key achievements 2007-08 [online] available at:
www.harlow2020.org.uk/downloads/key_achievements/harlow_2020_report.pdf (accessed 3 September 2009).

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