Agenda item

Harlow and Gilston Garden Town: Infrastructure Delivery Plan Review


The Leader of the Council presented the Harlow and Gilston Garden Town Infrastructure Delivery Plan Review report. He said that the purpose of the report was to lay out what infrastructure was required and where and when it was needed to achieve the targets set out in the District Plan such as the number of houses required, sustainable travel and employment. He said that the delivery plan also provided the scale of infrastructure needed, the phasing of it, the costs, the priorities, who was responsible, who paid and identified funding gaps and how developer contributions were shared.


The Leader of the Council said that the plan needed updating after five years due to new local plans, the approvals of planning applications, changes to developer contributions and changes in costs. He said that the role of the document was to provide an evidence base for masterplanning and to assist planning officers in their future discussions to get the delivery of infrastructure at the right time and place. He said that the plan would be updated every 2-3 years to keep up with changes to needs and costs and it was important to endorse now as infrastructure delivery was a key part of achieving the council’s aims.


Councillor Crystall proposed that the recommendations in the report be supported. Councillor Glover-Ward seconded the proposal.


Councillor Dunlop said that there was no mention in the plan about burial grounds. He said that Gilston currently had capacity for 28 burials and 30,000 people would be moving into the area over the next 30 years. He said he wanted to flag that it was missing in the report.


The Garden Town Lead Officer said the plan would be reviewed in the future when the demand started to present itself. He said a greater evidence base was required to be able to secure infrastructure for burial grounds and said this would start to come forward as the development starts. He said the issue of burial ground would be accommodated by future updates and reassessment of needs.


Councillor Dunlop said he appreciated that the land was there but asked who would pay for it to be turned into burial ground in the future.


The Garden Town Lead Officer said that there would be costs but it was not possible to introduce further requirements into the Gilston Area s.106 agreement (which had established the infrastructure requirements for the Gilston Area) at this stage as the Development Management Committee endorsed the Heads of Terms last year. He said the funding requirements would likely, in part, be covered in the normal way throughthe management and operation of sites, including fees from burials. He also added that through the stewardship arrangements of the s.106 agreement, there was a requirement for considerable areas of land to be handed over to a stewardship organisation, in good order and suitable for its future intended use. Once emerging, the stewardship organisation may decide to safeguard some of  the land for burial purposes.


Councillor Buckmaster said that many residents and members were concerned about the project moving at a slow pace. He asked if the risks had been assessed about late delivery of stages. He also mentioned the phasing of education provision and the need to make sure provision was made on the occupation of the homes and not rely on other schools in the area being available for places.


The Garden Town Lead Officer said that the risks continued to be assessed as the scheme progressed and the detail of the s.106 agreement continued to be worked through. He said that officers continued to work with HCC to ensure that the HIG grant funding (of £172m) remained available to the project given its complex nature. In that respect, officers also worked proactively with Homes England to assess the risks and mitigate them where possible.


Councillor Deering said he was also concerned about the perceived slow progress of the project. He asked what steps were being taken to ensure the project was moving forward as quickly as possible and said that Councillor Dunlop had made a good point about burial ground provision.


Councillor Crystall said that the joint committee had been agreed and would be assessing the risk moving forward.


The Garden Town Lead Officer added that there were a range of risks of both delivering the project quickly and delivering it slowly. He said the plan ensured the process was thorough and secured the right level of infrastructure.


Councillor Estop said she welcomed the delivery plan and said it was important that the Executive committed to it. She referred to land value capture and viability assessments on affordable housing.


The Garden Town Lead Officer said the project had to work within the advice and guidance provided by the government. He said that the officers view was that the project had captured the best compromise between government funding, viability and the delivery of the site.


Councillor Dunlop said he expressed disappointment in the viability assessments and felt that it was an opportunity missed.


Councillor Hoskins said that it was important that the infrastructure was provided for sustainable transport before the homes were occupied to help form and shape behaviours early.


The motion to support the recommendation having been proposed and seconded was put to the meeting and upon a vote being taken, was declared CARRIED.


RESOLVED – To recommend to Council the approval of the HGGT IDP 2023 to form part of the evidence base for the consideration of master plans, pre-application consideration, planning application consideration and in relation to all other relevant development management processes in relation to the Garden Town


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