A major development for the centre of Harlow has been given the go-ahead by the Development Control Committee at Harlow Council who resolved to grant planning permission subject to a Section 106 agreement.

The Harlow Quarter scheme, by Strawberry Star, will create 741 new apartments, along with flexible ground floor retail space to attract new cafés and restaurants to this up-and-coming area of the town.

The latest scheme gives the green light to 578 apartments in a series of buildings, including two landmark towers, following on from Strawberry Star’s earlier application for 163 new homes on part of the same site.

The success of the latest application, which follows extensive consultations with both Harlow Council and Essex County Council to ensure the best possible design for the area, means that this under-utilised part of the town centre is set for a major regeneration, with the car-free housing development bringing new life to the heart of Harlow. 

Harlow Quarter’s new apartments will range from studios to three-bedroom family homes and will sit alongside around 3,000 sq m of flexible commercial space and 6,250 sq m of improved public realm.

Quality of life is at the heart of the development, with the vast majority of apartments benefiting from dual-aspect views and having a balcony or terrace, as well as access to private roof gardens and courtyards.

New walking and cycling routes will be developed, making car-free living convenient, with the town station and Harlow Town Park a 15-minute walk away.

The development has been designed by architect Flanagan Lawrence, and the latest application includes full details for the two taller blocks and outline details for the rest of the scheme.

The two buildings that form the centrepiece of the 1.79-hectare site have been designed by the architect to fit in with Harlow’s history as the first of the 1950s new towns. One features a distinctive “harlequin” pattern of trapezoids, that give it a retro feel, calling to mind the first residential tower block in the country, The Lawn, built by Frederick Gibberd in Harlow and now a Grade II listed building.

Planning officers praised the scheme: “The proposals would dramatically change and revitalise an underused and somewhat ‘run-down’ part of the town centre. General economic, environmental and visual regeneration changes are therefore very positive. The evolution of the proposals has resulted in a form of development that can contribute much to the overall regeneration of Harlow Town Centre.”

Chairman of Strawberry Star, Santhosh Gowda, said: “When Harlow New Town was built it was an exciting new way of living, and the town centre buzzed with life. But 70 years later, the heart had gone out of the centre as online shopping and working from home emptied the streets. Harlow Quarter will create a new buzz for a new generation – revitalising the centre of town with new homes, new businesses and a new style of urban living.

“We are very excited about these plans for Harlow Quarter which will have a significant contribution to the regeneration of the town centre. With plans underway by Harlow Council to create a new Arts and Cultural Quarter nearby, with two new public squares, Harlow really is a town that’s going places and we would recommend an early look at Harlow Quarter for both renters and homebuyers.”

Cllr Dan Swords, deputy council leader and portfolio holder for regeneration, said: “The decision by the Development Management Committee reflects the most significant regeneration opportunity in Harlow town centre. Not only will we see new high-quality home and massive improvements to public open space, it will be bring with it almost £50million of investment to the town centre. Alongside our other town centre initiatives, this will be the catalyst for exciting improvements in the years ahead.”

Freya Turtle, director of planning consultancy, Turley, who supported Strawberry Star with its latest application, said: “The approval is a fantastic result for Harlow town centre. The new high-quality dwellings and commercial spaces will inject activity and vitality, as well as delivering exceptional public realm and architecture to the heart of Harlow.

“Throughout the application process we were mindful of feedback from the Quality Review Panel and Harlow Council’s new Harlow Town Centre Masterplan Framework, and by listening to them and other stakeholders we were able to make key changes to the scheme. We look forward to continuing our work with Strawberry Star and Harlow Council to ensure the delivery of this project as soon as possible.”

Image source: Strawberry Star

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