Core Strategy Issues and Options Consultation Document (Read-only)

Ended on the 28th January 2011
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5 Guiding future development


5.1 Introduction

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5.1.1 This section of the Issues and Options document seeks your feedback on a number of issues that will help to inform the ongoing preparation of the Core Strategy, particularly the principles that should direct new development. It is important to note that the Council is at the beginning of the plan making process and as such there may be other options available to address the issues facing Harlow.

5.1.2 The regeneration of the town is a key corporate priority and the Council strongly believes that investment and growth will be the catalyst for delivering this regeneration and renewal.

5.1.3 To deliver this there will be a need to provide a range of housing, employment and community uses along with appropriate services and facilities. This will need to be supported by a range of infrastructure, including health care, education facilities and improvements to transportation. However, regeneration will not be delivered simply by building, there needs to be a coordinated effort to address a range of underlying socio-economic issues affecting the area.

5.2 Growth principles

5.2.1 To deliver the Council’s overarching objectives for Harlow new development should maximise wider regeneration goals. The Council believes that this guiding principle will ensure the Core Strategy effectively delivers the vision and strategic objectives for the District.

Question 13:

Do you agree that new development should be directed to areas that will maximise regeneration of the town?

To respond please use the separate Issues and Options consultation questionnaire

5.2.2 As the Core Strategy develops the Council will set out in more detail the principles for directing development across the district.

5.3 Existing capacity

5.3.1 The Council has identified approximately 5,000 dwellings within Harlow’s existing urban boundary. This figure consists of:

  • Allocated housing sites where planning permission has been granted
  • Unallocated housing sites where planning permission has been granted
  • Allocated housing sites contained in the 2006 Local Plan which are awaiting planning applications
  • Sites where the principle of development has been accepted

5.3.2 The Council will also consider other opportunities to maximise the use of land within the ‘Urban Area Boundary’ through selective renewal, and by examining the role and function of other land before looking to release land in the Green Belt. A definition of the ‘Urban Area Boundary’ can be found in Appendix 1. Possible development opportunities within the ‘Urban Area Boundary’ will be discussed in more detail below.

Figure 5.1

5.4 Density

5.4.1 There may be opportunities to increase the densities in certain parts of the town, particularly in areas that benefit from good access to passenger transport and have good access to a range of services and facilities. Increasing densities helps to inject vitality to an area as well as supporting shops and services. Improvements in design mean that density can be increased without detracting from the existing visual character of the area. Furthermore, increasing densities within the urban area boundary could minimise the amount of other open land, including the Green Belt, required to meet the development needs of the community.

Question 14:

Please rank, in order of priority, where you think higher densities of development should go within the District (1 = highest priority, 5 = lowest priority)
Around public transport hubs (railway station, bus station and bus stops)
At appropriate locations within neighbourhood areas
Hatches
Neighbourhood Centres
Within the Town Centre

To respond please use the separate Issues and Options consultation questionnaire

5.5 Other opportunities within the town

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5.5.1 It is important that the Council carefully considers all possible options for locating new development within the ‘Urban Area Boundary’. This includes assessing the role and function of open spaces and other areas of undeveloped land to determine whether there are any areas that no longer meet the needs of the community and could be released for a range of alternative uses. It is important to note that the Council has not made any decisions on the use of land and wishes to hear the views of the community and other stakeholders before developing options further. These discussions will give the Council a better understanding of what particular assets should be protected, what assets could be enhanced and what assets no longer meet the changing needs of the community and could be released for other uses. The definitions of Open Spaces can be found in Appendix 1.

5.5.2 Ultimately, the outcome of these discussions will enable the Council to determine the scale of any future releases of the Green Belt necessary to accommodate the town’s development needs.

Question 15:

Should the Council consider underused open spaces and other undeveloped land for development before considering releasing land in the Green Belt?

To respond please use the separate Issues and Options consultation questionnaire

5.6 Green Wedges

5.6.1 The development of Harlow and its distinctive visual character has been shaped by its Green Wedges. These comprise a network of green spaces, generally free of buildings, except for school and leisure buildings, and contain space for formal and informal leisure activities, landscaped and wooded areas, sites of nature conservation importance, agricultural land and other predominantly open space uses. The Green Wedges also serve as green access corridors, containing footpaths and cycleways, linking the town centre, employment areas and residential neighbourhoods as well as the town’s roads. They are widely regarded as a valued and important amenity within the town.

5.6.2 The preparation of the Core Strategy provides an opportunity to review the role and function of Green Wedges to ensure they remain relevant to Harlow’s current and future needs. It also gives the opportunity to set out how Green Wedges should be recognised in shaping future growth in the area.

Question 16:

The Green Wedges have performed a variety of roles in shaping Harlow. Should the roles of Green Wedges be reviewed to meet future development needs in the Harlow area?

To respond please use the separate Issues and Options consultation questionnaire

5.7 Other proposals

5.7.1 The Council has a number of strategic initiatives that are central to the regeneration of the town. These include the regeneration of the town centre and the continued redevelopment of existing Neighbourhood Centres and Priority Estates. Proposals for the redevelopment of the Town Centre North will be developed throughout the preparation of the Core Strategy and will form a key component of the final strategy.

5.7.2 The Council will maximise the potential of these initiatives to deliver a range of benefits to Harlow, revitalising these areas and providing additional homes.

5.8 Urban extensions

5.8.1 It is unlikely all Harlow’s future development needs will be met through the options described above. Additional housing and land for other uses will need to be accommodated through urban extensions. A careful balance will need to be struck between delivering development to meet community needs and to sustain regeneration whilst recognising environmental assets and the town’s setting in the Green Belt. Potential approaches are discussed in Part 6.

Question 17:

Please rank, in order of priority, the most important things that you think should direct new development in and around Harlow (1 = highest priority, 8 = lowest priority)
Areas with good access to public transport and other services and facilities
Developing underused green spaces
Maximising the use of previously developed land
Meeting regeneration goals
Protecting Green Wedges
Protecting important landscapes
Protecting the Green Belt Where there is existing infrastructure capacity

To respond please use the separate Issues and Options consultation questionnaire

5.9.1 Employment

5.9.2 Regenerating the town requires more than just housing. As mentioned there are complex socio-economic factors involved that require addressing. These include improving employment opportunities, enhancing the town’s retail offer and addressing health and education issues.

5.9.3 Providing for a substantial increase in employment opportunities would assist regeneration objectives and secure growth in key sectors and clusters. The town has a number of opportunities to capitalise on growing and emerging industries. The location of Stansted Airport and the position of the town on the M11 corridor are key strengths. It is important that Harlow remains competitive, responds to changing market demands and capitalises on emerging sectors.

5.9.4 Harlow currently has five significant employment sites, Templefields, Pinnacles, Edinburgh Way, Bush Fair/Staple Tye and the Town Centre. Whilst all are well established and meet a range of different roles in the local economy, they have reached a stage where some form of intervention may be required to enable them to reach their full potential and adapt to changing economic structures and business needs. For example some sites have deteriorated and are no longer attracting the level of investment needed to sustain the town. It is important that the town’s employment land remains attractive to investors.

5.9.5 The evidence base studies prepared so far indicates Harlow has a good supply of employment land. However, the Council is considering what impact the regeneration and economic development objectives will have on this assessment. The Council may also need to review the role and function of existing employment sites to ensure that the Council’s regeneration and economic development goals are achieved.

5.9.6 The Core Strategy will need to ensure that the existing employment sites are responsive to changing economic patterns and business needs. As such the Council will consider the role, function and location of future employment land.

5.9.7 Consequently, areas of search to accommodate new employment may need to be identified. Options include locations:

  • within existing employment areas and those identified in the Adopted Local Plan
  • within the urban extensions being considered to accommodate growth in the area
  • Identification of new employment areas at appropriate locations
  • the promotion of live-work units at appropriate locations
  • a combination of these approaches
  • within existing employment areas and within urban extensions

5.9.8 The diagram below shows the current broad locations of employment sites in the town.

Figure 7.2
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Question 18:

Do the existing employment areas meet current and future employment needs?

Question 19:

If you disagree/strongly disagree, please explain what changes you think should be made to Harlow’s employment areas?

To respond please use the separate Issues and Options consultation questionnaire


Image 7.4

5.10 Retailing

5.10.1 The Core Strategy will consider the role and function of the town’s retail centres at all scales (including the Town Centre, Edinburgh Way, Neighbourhood Centres and Hatches). The Core Strategy will define the role of these centres so that they can continue to meet the changing needs of the community as well as contributing to the regeneration of the town.

5.10.2 The Town Centre should remain the main focus for retail development and initiatives to regenerate and improve the retail offer of the Town Centre are essential to its success and will be supported. The retail core of centres will be reinforced through the identification of primary and secondary frontages.

Image 7.5

5.10.3 Edinburgh Way is a significant out of town retail destination. The Core Strategy will need to consider the role of this centre particularly given the proposals to regenerate the Town Centre and Neighbourhood Centres.

Question 20:

How do you think Harlow Council should shape future shopping development within the town?

To respond please use the separate Issues and Options consultation questionnaire

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