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Three district councils have united in support for a 10,000 home garden town to be built near Gilston. In a joint statement, symbolic in the pending publication of respective local plans, Harlow, East Herts and Epping Forest councils backed the government's locally led garden town fund.
This week ministers supported the building of garden towns and granted £500,000 to the three local authorities for a development surrounding Gilston, Much Hadham, Eastwick and Hunsdon.
Despite opposition from pressure group Stop Harlow North that Gilston Park Estate will destroy green space and cannot be supported, council leaders agreed the homes are needed.
Jon Clempner, Labour leader of Harlow Council, said: “Harlow Council has clear ambitions to regenerate Harlow and believes growth, particularly to Harlow’s north, would contribute to the development of the town in its role as the sub-regional centre.
“This initiative is a huge opportunity for Harlow and the surrounding areas to provide much needed housing and infrastructure improvements which will all contribute to the regeneration of Harlow.”
The funding will play a part in establishing a strategic team to oversee the progression, as well as funding research and support to implement the plan.
But it will also be used to address issues such as road access to the M11 and A414, River Stort crossing improvements, water use and healthcare – all key concerns of Stop Harlow North.
The joint statement stressed that local communities would be involved in the development of the master plan.
Linda Haysey, leader of East Herts Council, said: “The funding will enable us to take the first steps in scoping out how the garden town could look.
“(It will allow us to) explore sustainable transport, homes for a range of sizes, needs and affordability, health provision and all the other elements that go towards a successful community.
“It will also allow us make sure we’re fully engaged with residents who might be directly affected by the proposals.”
John Philip, planning portfolio holder for Epping Forest District Council, added: “The regeneration of Harlow is key to the success of our region.
“The whole area will benefit from the coordinated strategic provision of new homes, employment and social infrastructure in and around Harlow.”
Andrew Johnson, leader of Harlow Council’s opposing Conservative group, said: “The Harlow Conservative group has always been in favour of development to the north of the town, rather than in other areas around Harlow.
“This announcement from the Conservative Government is most welcome and will hopefully help continue to drive the economic redevelopment of the town.
“However any extension to the town should be fully integrated as part of Harlow and clearly infrastructure must be delivered before or at the same time as any new development.”
This article originally appeared online here.