Draft Old Harlow Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan

Ended on the 2nd May 2011
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1.0 Conservation areas are parts of our local environment with special architectural or historic qualities. They are created by the Council, in consultation with the local community, to preserve and enhance the specific character of these areas so that they can be enjoyed by people now and by future generations.

1.1 This study has been undertaken as part of the Council’s statutory duty to appraise conservation areas in the District and to produce proposals for their preservation and enhancement. The aims of this document are:

  • to define and record the special architectural and historic interest of Old Harlow conservation area;
  • to review and clearly define the conservation area boundaries, so that they reflect what is considered worthy of preservation;
  • to identify issues affecting the character of the area;
  • to identify opportunities for preservation and enhancement;
  • to increase public awareness and involvement in the preservation of the area; and
  • to provide a robust framework for planning decisions.

1.2 The Council is seeking views on this document and it will be refined as a result of engagement with local residents and stakeholders before it is formally adopted.

1.3 Where technical urban design terms have been used in this document they are defined in the glossary found in Appendix C.

Structure and content of the document

1.4 This document is structured in two parts. The first section is an appraisal of the conservation area. The second section is a proposed management plan for the conservation area.


1.5 The purpose of the appraisal is to highlight all of the special qualities in the area and draw attention to the issues affecting it. The appraisal has been designed so that it can be used as a manual when making planning decisions in the conservation area.

Management Plan

1.6 The purpose of the management plan is to put forward proposals for enhancing and preserving the special qualities and character of the conservation area. The management plan is an important output of the appraisal process. Proposals contained in the draft management plan are based on the issues identified in the appraisal.

Structure of the document
Structure of the document


Conservation Areas

1.7 Conservation areas are defined under The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. This act states that conservation areas are “areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.” Old Harlow was designated as a Conservation Area in 1969. It is one of nine conservation areas in Harlow District Council.

Why has the Council produced this document?

1.8 Once a conservation area has been designated, the Council has a statutory duty to:

  • monitor conservation areas from time to time;
  • review conservation area boundaries and consider if any further parts of their area should be designated as conservation areas;
  • publish proposals for the preservation and enhancement of conservation areas; and
  • consider the views of local people when formulating these proposals.

Who will use this appraisal?

1.9 This appraisal will be used by:

  • Council planning officers when determining planning applications and defending the Council’s decisions at appeal;
  • Property owners and occupiers within the conservation area when proposing alterations, extensions and redevelopment;
  • Developers and planning agents proposing development, demolition or redevelopment within the conservation area; and
  • The highways authority, Essex County Council, when carrying out work to the highway.


1.10 Old Harlow conservation area is a unique place in a unique setting. Nestled on the edge of the post-war New Town, Old Harlow is the original settlement of Harlow. It developed from the late medieval period as a market place alongside the hamlet of Mulberry Green. Old Harlow grew during the Victorian and Edwardian era with the opening of the Great Eastern Railway in 1848. However, prior to the building of the New Town, Old Harlow remained a small, rural village.

1.11 After the New Towns Act in 1946 the New Town of Harlow was developed to the west of Old Harlow. Though the setting of Old Harlow has radically changed over the last 50 years, it remains distinct from Harlow New Town and has retained much of its original village character.

The special architectural or historic interest that justifies the designation of Old Harlow as a conservation area derives from the following features:

a.) The village character of Old Harlow and Mulberry Green.

b.) The late medieval street pattern and later market infill development present on Market Street and Fore Street, evidence of the organic growth of the village.

c.) The rich variety of listed buildings of different ages ranging from 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th century.

d.) A collection of public houses (previously inns) dating back to the 15th, 16th and 17th century, which provide evidence of the village’s function as an important coaching station along the route to and from London.

e.) Victorian and Edwardian terraces and detached houses of significant ‘group value.’

f.) The enclosed and intimate character of the High street.

g.) A number of well-preserved original shop fronts.

h.) The presence of traditional building materials and historic local building methods such as timber frames, tiled roofs and pargetting.

i.) The contrast of Old Harlow with New Town Harlow.

j.) Homes on St Johns Avenue which provide evidence of the attempt made to establish ‘Harlow Garden Village.’

k.) A number of churches and village halls of significant architectural interest.


National Planning Guidance

1.12 New national planning guidance for managing the historic environment was introduced in March 2010, known as Planning Policy Statement 5: Planning for the Historic Environment (PPS5). This replaced the previous national guidance on the matter which was called Planning Policy Guidance 15 (1994) and Planning Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and Planning (1988).

1.13 The approach taken in this appraisal seeks to reflect this new guidance, in particular the emphasis on managing and defining the significance of heritage assets. This appraisal also followed guidance contained in the following English Heritage Guides:

  • Guidance on Conservation Area Appraisal
  • Guidance on the Management of Conservation Areas

Local Planning Policies

1.14 Harlow’s 2006 Local Plan contains a range of policies on development and land use changes affecting conservation areas and listed buildings. A schedule of relevant saved policies is contained in Appendix B.

What is the status of the conservation area appraisal?

1.15 When it is formally adopted by the Council, the appraisal will be a material consideration when making planning decisions within the Old Harlow conservation area. The appraisal would have the status of a Supplementary Planning Document for the Old Harlow conservation area. Whilst the Local Plan is in force, the appraisal will support the interpretation of Local Plan policies with respect to the Old Harlow conservation area.

Harlow’s Local Development Framework (LDF)

1.16 When it has been adopted, Harlow’s Local Development Framework (LDF) Core Strategy will eventually replace Harlow’s 2006 Local Plan. It will deliver the spatial planning strategy for Harlow over the next 15 to 20 years. The Core Strategy is the principal document in the LDF which the Council is currently making progress on. This document will be supported by a range of other Development Plan Documents and Supplementary Planning Documents.

Where will this conservation area appraisal fit in with the LDF?

1.17 The conservation area appraisal will not form part of Harlow’s LDF but it will support the interpretation of LDF policies contained in Development Plan Documents with respect to the Old Harlow conservation area. The appraisal will also form part of the LDF evidence base and will inform policies being produced in the Council’s LDF Core Strategy and other subsidiary documents.

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