New garden town, Land North of the A414 at Harlow, near Hunsdon, Gilston and Eastwick, Hertfordshire

Advocating for sensitive and sustainable new town development on land formally protected by the Green Belt

The Location:

The site is situated in a complex heritage context, with many Scheduled Monuments, Listed Buildings, Registered Parks and Gardens, and Conservation Areas within the site or nearby. The proposal includes outline planning for 7 villages including demolition of existing buildings and erection of a residential led mixed use development comprising up to 10,000 houses.

What we did:

We objected to this application for 7 new ‘garden villages’ to the north of Harlow due to the scale and extent of low-density suburban development that would drastically encroach on the setting of, and disconnect, a number of historic buildings, landscapes and scheduled monuments, particularly the grade II Brick Farm and the grade I Hunsdon House and St Dunstan’s Church, and extend across land that was part of Henry VIII’s former royal hunting park, formally protected by the Green Belt. We acknowledged the area had been designated for a new ‘garden town’ in the Local Plan, we recommended an alternative scheme was needed based on the principles of landscape and heritage conservation and of compact sustainable development. Rather than providing detached, low density housing that would spread across the green belt and historic landscapes, the new garden town should comprise for a number of more compact, walkable, distinct and characterful villages set within a greenbelt landscape setting and would achieve the same quantity of residential development as the application proposals. Amendments have provided larger setbacks around certain heritage assets, such as the Eastwick Moated Site, but in general, the footprint of the new town across the green belt remains. We understand Historic England are still working with the applicant on amended plans.

The Local Authority Conservation Officer advice:

‘We conclude that this heritage impact has been accepted by the approval of the GA1 site allocation policy.’

Historic England advice:

‘We consider that the proposal as it stands would cause a high level of less than substantial harm to the significance of Hunsdon Brook Fishponds, Eastwick Moated Site, Hunsdon House and the Church of St Dunstan through development within their setting and unknown harm to the archaeological importance of the Hunsdon Brook fishponds.’

As of May 2022 the planning decision was still pending.

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