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A plan to build 10,000 homes around Gilston is essential to meeting a severe housing shortage, according to the developer's director. Mary Parsons, group director of housing association Places For People, responded to concerns raised by pressure group Stop Harlow North by addressing the necessity of housing.
She said: “We want to make sure people have got the right information available to them and there is a lot of myth busting to be done.
“This is not Harlow North. We want to set the record straight that 10,000 homes are needed and there will be infrastructure in at the right time to support these homes.
“These homes are needed and most people we have asked have agreed that. This is about getting the right homes in at the right time.
“People have said that a bigger Harlow is not a better Harlow. But Harlow has to grow to be a better town.”
Gilston Park Estate has now been given the blessing of East Herts District Council and was included as part of their draft local plan. Final consultations are now taking place before the plan is signed off next year.
For the past decade villagers have vocally opposed plans. The original proposals, called Harlow North, planned for more than 25,000 homes to be built in the area – but these were overthrown.
Ms Parsons was keen to point out that since then plans have been significantly altered and that Gilston Park Estate and Harlow North are not the same thing.
She continued: “It can appear to be a big shift in policy from East Herts (council) but I think (public opinion) has missed out a lot of the key steps in between.
“I would like to say creating whatever type of housing in whatever location is about is about giving opportunities to local people.
“It is also about supporting the regeneration of Harlow. With Public Health England there are going to be a lot of people coming in.
“The original plan for Harlow New Town was designed for expansion.”
At a heated public meeting in Hunsdon Village Hall last Monday Spike Hughes, leader of Stop Harlow North, said: “If we do not stand up and protect it now our children will be growing up in a concrete jungle.”
Stop Harlow North leaders are asking villagers to oppose Gilston Park Estate by providing feedback to the council.
An independent inspector will examine the plans early next year and could approve, refuse or ask East Herts to amend parts before signing it off.
He will meet with councillors to discuss the plans and if he considers it important for Stop Harlow North to be present one member will have the opportunity to attend.
Leaders of the pressure group feel they would have more chance to convince the inspector their point needs to be heard if more people write in opposition.
This article was first published on 12/12/16 and can be read here.