Core Strategy Issues and Options Consultation Document (Read-only)
3 The strategic challenge
3.1 This section looks at the issues identified in the previous section and pulls them together to produce a broader picture of the issues facing the town.
3.1.1 Harlow suffers from a range of complex and interrelated socio-economic issues that have affected the town. Continued economic restructuring has resulted in industrial decline and the loss of a number of big employers that were once the cornerstone of the town and its community. A lack of investment and population stagnation in recent years has also taken its toll. For the town to maintain its sub-regional role it needs to be an attractive location for investment. To do this the town needs to remain competitive and responsive to the evolving needs of business.
3.1.2 The needs and aspirations of the community have also changed since the New Town was conceived. Increased mobility and changing consumption habits have impacted on the success of neighbourhood centres and the town centre. Changing needs and aspirations have also altered the type of environment people want to live in. The Core Strategy also needs to ensure that the town is able to evolve to meet changing community needs.
3.1.3 It is important that the Council provides the right conditions to enable these underlying issues to be addressed.
3.2 A ‘do nothing’ approach
3.2.1 The Council could adopt a ‘do nothing’ approach by carrying forward the policies and plans of the existing Replacement Harlow Local Plan (adopted 2006). However, the current policies and plans would fail to provide the much needed stimulus to deliver the regeneration of the town and address the issues which have been identified so far by the community and by the evidence base. Furthermore, the current Local Plan does not provide a robust framework to coordinate investment across the town. As a result of the low level of growth proposed in this scenario Harlow would stagnate, its economy would decline and the underlying socio-economic issues affecting the town would not be tackled. Tackling these issues will require sustained and coordinated investment to regenerate and renew the town.
3.3 Instigating change
3.3.1 The Council believes that there is a need for a significant increase in homes and jobs to support regeneration. Growth led regeneration will enable the town to generate the critical mass needed to attract and sustain investment ensuring Harlow secures its role as a key sub-regional centre. A substantial increase in growth will sustain a dynamic and vibrant town, will sustain a higher level of retail provision, will provide greater employment opportunities and cultural functions as well as supporting higher level services and facilities in health and further education.
3.3.2 Current research highlights that for Harlow to fulfil this role and to successfully secure the regeneration and renewal of the town an increase in economic and demographic growth and hence employment and housing growth is necessary.
3.4 Overall level of growth
3.4.1 The withdrawal of the East of England Plan allows the Council, in collaboration with the wider community to reconsider the overall level of development for the district, from the bottom up. However, it is important that the Council prepares a strategy that adequately addresses the existing issues and development needs facing Harlow. The strategy for Harlow needs to include growth in housing and employment, regeneration, transportation improvements and enhancements to the green space network.
3.4.2 The baseline for the strategy is to ensure that the future needs of the entire community are met. This includes ensuring the necessary homes and jobs are available in the town to allow today’s children and young people to live and work in the town as well as ensuring there is adequate provision of homes for the growing elderly population. It also means that a range of services and facilities that will be required to meet these needs are provided. The Council believes that providing for the current and future needs of community provides the starting point for the Core Strategy.
3.4.3 The evidence supporting the now withdrawn East of England Plan considered that the provision of 16,000 new homes and approximately 8,000 jobs in the Harlow area would help address the underlying issues affecting Harlow by stimulating the regeneration and renewal of the town. The Council believes that this level of growth would not only meet the needs of the existing community but help address a number of the other complex issues affecting the long term prosperity of Harlow. The Council recognises that growth is not an end in itself and needs to be linked to a range of initiatives to address economic stagnation and current social issues. However, growth can provide the much needed stimulus to propel the regeneration and renewal of Harlow. By taking this opportunity to be bold and transformational the Council and the community can recreate the spirit on which the town was founded.
3.4.4 The Council also recognises that delivering growth and regeneration will be challenging. This will need to be delivered in a phased and coordinated way to ensure the appropriate and timely delivery of a range of infrastructure necessary to support growth.
3.4.5 These conclusions are supported by contributions and technical studies that informed the production East of England Plan as well as the technical studies that informed the Council’s Regeneration and Social Inclusion Strategy. Information relating to the East of England Plan can be found on the Council’s website at www.harlow.gov.uk/planning, following the link to ‘Forward Planning’ and then to ‘Regional Planning’. Information relating to the Regeneration and Social Inclusion Strategy can be found on the Council’s website and searching ‘Harlow Regeneration Strategy’.
Would the provision of 16,000 new homes in and around Harlow meet the current needs of the local community and help secure the regeneration of Harlow?
If you disagree/strongly disagree, what do you think the scale of growth should be, ensuring that the Core Strategy addresses the particular issues facing Harlow?
To respond please use the separate Issues and Options consultation questionnaire