Six new villages on the outskirts of Harlow have been approved as part of a major project spanning the Hertfordshire and Essex border.

East Herts Council has approved the planning application, which is set to bring 8,500 homes to the area as part of the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town project.

An application from Taylor Wimpey for another 1,500 homes may create a seventh village, bringing the total to 10,000 to be delivered as part of the project through to 2050 and beyond, subject to approval by East Herts Council.

The Gilston villages are part of a wider initiative to deliver 24,000 homes for the Harlow area.

It is the second largest growth initiative in the South East, backed by £171m infrastructure funding from central Government.

Places for People’s plans include eight schools (six primary and two secondary) ,healthcare facilities, 29,000 sq m (7.16 acres) of employment space, a leisure centre, sports facilities and green open space, including community and country parks and buffer zones between the villages.

Following a seven-hour meeting of the council’s development management committee on February 28, East Herts leader Cllr Linda Haysey said: “For many years we have worked together as part of a five-council partnership [East Herts, Harlow and Epping Forest district councils and Hertfordshire and Essex county councils] to bring a vision to life for a new community at Harlow and Gilston that embraces and responds to the challenges of the future.

“The decision taken by councillors is a significant step towards ensuring our next generation can live and raise families of their own in East Herts.

“I understand residents will have concerns about the impact of development on this scale, but with that scale comes the investment needed to provide the new services and facilities that build sustainable communities.

“We can and have secured the necessary infrastructure to support growth – the schools, healthcare and transport our children and their families will rely on.

“It is their needs, together with those of residents in and around Harlow and Gilston, that will remain front and centre in the years to come as we seek to harness the opportunities of growth and manage it in a way that protects everything that is valued by our existing communities.”

Image source: Places for People

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