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Chapter 7
7.1 Objectives
  1. To promote economic development and regeneration in accordance with the principles of sustainable development, particularly so that economic development is linked with policies for transport, housing, educational and cultural facilities.
  2. To develop a comprehensive, strategic and holistic approach to restructuring and regeneration, with a partnership approach to meeting local needs, so that full advantage is taken of the town’s economic strengths through its status as a Priority Area for Economic Regeneration and the potential benefit from development for Stansted Airport.
  3. To improve job opportunities for residents, especially for those who are disadvantaged in the labour market, so as to create a socially inclusive society which has access to good quality jobs and the opportunity to gain related skills and training.
  4. To provide for the town’s needs for economic development, in ways that conserve, protect and enhance the environment.
  5. To provide a range of sites and premises that are available for a diverse mix and balance of uses, with sites for large, medium and small businesses, both for growing local companies and inward investors.
  6. To give precedence to the re-use of previously developed land and the intensification of use on existing sites, over the release of new land for employment purposes.
7.2 Key Trends in Harlow Economy
7.2.1 Harlow has serious social and economic problems at the localised level. The government Index of Deprivation 2000 puts Harlow as the 82nd most deprived district in England, ranked out of a total of 354 districts. Although in recent years employment numbers in the town has remained steady 33,245 in 1997 and 33,425 in 2000 and unemployment has declined (2.9% in September 2000). The majority of new jobs have been in the highly skilled research and development sectors. Many residents are unable to access these jobs due to the skills gap that exists. The job losses in recent years have been linked to changes in the global economy especially in the ICT sector.
7.2.2 Other trends are the continued decline of the manufacturing sector (24.4% of jobs in 2000), growth of the service sector, and increased in-commuting into the town (43.7% of jobs in Harlow were held by non-residents in 1997). Forecasts suggest that there is the potential for an increase in employment in the town of around 9,000 jobs between 1996-2011. Forecast growth sectors include business services, wholesale distribution, hotels and catering, and retailing. In addition a further 8,000 jobs are expected to be created at Stansted Airport by 2008.
7.3 Government Policy and Guidance, Regional Planning Guidance (RPG) and Economic Development Strategies
7.3.1 The Local Plan takes a long term and holistic approach to the economic regeneration of Harlow. This incorporates all levels of policy, guidance and strategy from central government, through regional and county levels to local community initiatives and development.
7.3.2 Government policy set in the 1998 ‘Competitive White Paper’ creates a 10-year policy framework for building a knowledge driven economy. This underpins initiatives for increasing skills, education and training opportunities and is further reiterated in the 2001 Regional Economic Development Strategy for the East of England, “Prosperity and Opportunity for All”, this has the vision ‘to make the East of England a world class economy, renowned for its knowledge base, the creativity and enterprise of its people and the quality of life of all who live and work here’.
7.3.3 The Environment White Paper “This Common Inheritance” emphasises the need to link the pursuit of economic growth with the need for a high quality and sustainable environment. This concept of sustainability is one that encompasses many areas of planning policy and is addressed throughout the Local Plan.
7.3.4 The main Planning Policy Guidance Notes that contain government guidance on planning for employment are PPG4 – Industrial and Commercial Development and Small Firms, and PPG12 – Development Plans. PPG4 states that “a choice of suitable sites will facilitate competition between developers; this will benefit end-users and stimulate economic activity”, and is supported further by PPG12 that states “…in preparing development plans, local authorities should take account of the need to revitalise and broaden the local economy, the need to stimulate employment opportunities, and the importance of encouraging industrial and commercial development”. This provides the central policy framework required for comprehensive economic regeneration in Harlow.
7.3.5 The Regional Planning Guidance for the South East promotes further economic regeneration, designating Harlow as a Priority Area for Economic Regeneration (PAER). It also identifies the M11 corridor as an area with possible potential for growth. The London-Stansted-Cambridge corridor study has identified various development scenarios, all of which propose growth options for Harlow. A Future Scenarios Study has been carried out in Harlow to inform the Community Strategy for the town over a twenty-year period in conjunction with key stakeholders in the town to examine how Harlow can release its potential as a successful, economically vital and sustainable town with an educated, skilled and well trained population.
7.3.6 The Harlow Regeneration Unit reflects the Council’s corporate objective “to develop a prosperous and sustainable local economy”. They will work in partnership with key stakeholders to secure funding and develop wide ranging strategies and plans to implement and achieve the economic regeneration aims and objectives set in the Council’s strategy and Local Plan.
7.4 Priority Area for Economic Regeneration
7.4.1 Harlow is a Priority Area for Economic Regeneration (PAER), due to its high levels of social deprivation, low education, training and skill levels, decline of manufacturing, and the need for renewal of the urban fabric.
7.4.2 Harlow has excellent strategic and locational advantages for further economic development. It is located close to the national motorway network (M25 and M11 motorways); and the WAGN rail line provides fast access to London, the buoyant technology based Cambridge, and nearby Stansted Airport.
7.4.3 However, the RPG recognises that Harlow, “has faced continuing manufacturing decline and social deprivation. Its building stock is becoming progressively more obsolete, and the town centre is in need of regeneration and renewal. Economic restructuring is taking place but substantial levels of investment are needed if Harlow is to fulfil its potential”. The government’s 2000 Indices of Deprivation records Harlow as the 82nd most deprived district in the Country, and the third most deprived district in the East of England.
7.4.4 The priority is to restructure, diversify and increase Harlow’s local employment base, so that the employment problems are addressed and the town acts as the primary economic driver for West Essex and the region. Economic regeneration should be focussed on improving opportunities for skills training for local residents, enhancing educational achievement, and improving job opportunities for local people. This will enable residents to become more competitive in the local employment market and redress the issues identified in RPG.
ER1 To take advantage of the economic strengths and opportunities in Harlow, particularly the town’s locational advantages, the Local Plan and other Council investment plans and strategies, will promote sustainable economic regeneration and renewal. The overall growth in employment opportunities is to be achieved through the following:
  1. Ensuring an adequate supply of suitable employment land;
  2. Actively promoting sustainable economic regeneration and renewal;
  3. Seeking appropriate infrastructure development;
  4. Integrating transport, housing, employment, educational and cultural facilities;
  5. Encouraging economic diversity and knowledge-based business clusters where appropriate;
  6. Supporting a partnership approach to the development of land.
7.5 New Employment Land
7.5.1 The Structure Plan proposes an additional 50 ha of employment land is made available for development in Harlow. The employment land supply in the town with planning permission for development, as of 1st April 2001 was 39 ha, but subsequently 4.7 ha of employment land has been lost to other uses. Therefore sites for 15.7 ha of employment land have been allocated on the basis of the sequential approach set out in Policy SD3.
7.5.2 As there is no suitable previously developed land within the existing built up area, in non employment use, that can be re-used, it follows that a release of green field land is required to meet the Structure Plan’s requirement. Allocating employment land near to existing employment land provides synergy for the new development. Nortel is the only existing employment site with sufficient adjacent land to be able to create a significant employment area. The allocation of this land is specifically to facilitate the Research and Development sector of the local economy. However, this site does not meet all the employment requirements. Employment land allocation at Newhall is also required to achieve a mixed-use development in accordance with sustainability principles.
7.5.3 Allocating employment land North of Nortel Networks results in the displacement a number of both thriving and redundant sports and recreation facilities. To ensure the requirements of PPG17 are met suitable replacement sports and recreational facilities are required. An area of land in the Green Wedge, north of Newhall and south of Gilden Way, has been allocated for such facilities. The replacement leisure buildings are to be located on the previously developed land within the Green Wedge. The provision of suitable separate facilities, if appropriate, of the replacement sports and recreation facilities such as playing fields, cricket pitch, tennis court, playground equipment, changing facilities and club house are required before the employment development commences on the land and buildings that are in active leisure use.

Additional employment land of 15.7 ha. (net) is allocated for business, industry and warehousing (B1, B2 and B8 uses), in the following locations shown on the Proposals Map.  The above sequential approach has been applied to the allocation of sites:

Ref.No. Site Area (ha)
ER2/1 Land north of Nortel Networks1 & 2 13.7
ER2/2 Newhall 3 2.0

1. The allocation of this land is specifically to facilitate the Research and Development sector of the local economy.
2. Development of Land North of Nortel Networks is conditional on the prior provision of appropriate replacement of the sports and recreation facilities.
3. Preferably located adjacent or within the local centre.

7.5.4 The sequential approach used in Policy ER3 is to be applied to the determination of development proposals on unallocated sites.
ER3 Planning applications for B1, B2 and B8 development on sites not allocated in the Local Plan and not located within the designated employment areas, will be determined in accordance with policies for mixed use development and by the application of the following approach:
  1. For offices only, the Town Centre;
  2. Re-use of previously developed land in the urban area other than the Town Centre;
  3. Use of undeveloped land in the urban area other than the Town Centre;
  4. Planned peripheral development outside of the urban area.
  B2 development due to its character, and B8 development due to its character and locational requirements relative to the transport network will not be expected to locate within the Town Centre and applications will be determined in accordance with the sequential approach criterion 2 to 4 inclusive.
  B1 development applications will be determined in accordance with the above sequential approach unless a less sequentially preferable location is justified as supporting a mixed-use development, which includes an element of B1 use within it.
ER4 If monitoring identifies that there is a significant inadequate range of sites and premises available, in terms of their location, quality and size, then the need to allocate additional sites to increase the supply of land and premises will be considered in an alteration to this Local Plan.
7.6 Exisiting Employment Area
7.6.1 To help ensure that a range of sites and premises is available both to support existing local businesses and to attract new businesses to Harlow, it is essential that the best use is made of the employment land presently available, this involves the reuse and intensification of previously developed land.
7.6.2 To ensure that modern business have the flexibility to carry out a range of different activities on a site, the existing general employment areas identified in Policy ER5 are considered to be suitable for a full range of employment generating uses.
ER5 Within the following existing general Employment Areas planning permission will normally be granted for offices and research and development, general industry, light industry and warehousing development within the use classes B1, B2 and B8:
Ref.No. Employment Area
ER5/1 Templefields and Riverway
ER5/2 Pinnacles
ER5/3 Burnt Mill
ER5/4 Staple Tye
ER5/5 Bush Fair
ER5/6 Nortel Networks
ER5/7 Church Langley
7.7 Retaining Existing Employment Areas
7.7.1 Given Harlow’s PAER status there is a strong need to ensure that the town’s economic base is not undermined. Consequently, land in existing general employment areas will normally be safeguarded from development for other uses. Particularly as there are few opportunities for identifying new land for employment in Harlow, due to the separation of housing and employment areas and the constraints on developing Green Wedges and Green Belt.



There have been a few significant losses of employment land to other uses, notably retailing, car showrooms and leisure uses. While it may be appropriate to locate some non-employment uses in existing employment areas this must not reduce the stock of employment land, and indeed the Structure Plan requires land lost to non-employment uses to be replaced.
7.7.3 Whilst government guidance encourages mixed use, and requires the Council to consider if land in employment use is no longer required, all existing areas currently meet a wide range of business needs and are considered viable employment sites. Also the separation of the bulk of employment land from residential areas, and the implications for amenity and sustainability, prohibits most existing employment areas from any possible residential use. However, exceptional circumstances may occur where non-employment uses are appropriate, and proposals will be considered against certain criteria. This policy does not apply to changes of use or development within the Town Centre office employment area, where other policies in the Local Plan are applicable.
ER6 Within the existing and allocated Employment Areas planning permission for change of use or redevelopment to uses other than those identified in Policy ER5 will be permitted if:
  1. The amount or range of sites or premises available for employment use would not be reduced below the level required in the Local Plan period;
  2. The proposal will not lead to the loss of an employment site of high quality;
  3. There is a demonstrable lack of market demand for employment over a long period, and the efforts made to market the site for business, industry and warehousing have been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Council;
  4. The development would be accessible by means other than the car;
  5. The proposal would be in accordance with the sequential approach to development;
  6. The proposal would not generate levels of traffic on surrounding roads which would result in congestion or loss of amenity.
7.7.4 The neighbourhood service areas also provide employment opportunities at the neighbourhood level easily accessible to the residential areas being outside the main employment areas. There has been a gradual change to retail uses which has reduced the employment uses in these areas, undermining their original role. To maintain the viability and vitality of the existing shopping centres appropriate employment uses will be encouraged. It is considered that the neighbourhood service areas have reached their capacity for retail uses (A1/A2/A3). To maintain the role of providing local non-retail services it is intended that no further change of use to retail will be permitted.
ER7 Within the neighbourhood service areas, planning permission will not be granted for change of use to A1, A2, or A3 uses. Applications for other uses will be considered on their merits.
7.8 Regeneration and Intensification
7.8.1 In Harlow much of the existing industrial and office stock is old and unsuited to modern business uses and needs. Therefore existing and new employment areas need significant amounts of redevelopment and modernisation to enable modern business to be accommodated. Intensification of the use of these areas is also necessary to raise employment densities, increase the utility of the allocated employment land and reduce development pressures on other areas of green open space.
7.8.2 Companies such as GlaxoSmithKline and Nortel Networks have demonstrated how innovative development can be used to redevelop, intensify and modernise employment land, generating increased employment and helping to regenerate Harlow’s economy.
ER8 Planning permission will be granted for the redevelopment, regeneration and modernisation of existing employment sites and premises. Where practicable, proposals should seek to intensify the use of the site and maximise employment generating potential.
7.9 The Knowledge Driven Sector
7.9.1 Harlow over recent years has attracted the research and development operations of large multi-national companies such as Nortel Networks and GlaxoSmithKline. These facilities have expanded and now make up a significant proportion of the R & D sector that in Harlow is now rivalling both Oxford and Cambridge as one of the leading geographic areas. The R & D sector and the knowledge driven economy can act as an important base to an expanding local economy, attracting other high value-added activities to Harlow.
7.9.2 The Council will encourage further proposals for R & D development that will help, through the multiplier effect, to create employment opportunities, regenerate the economy, and establish Harlow as a prime location for knowledge driven sector development and investment. There is a beneficial effect from the “cluster effect” arising from proximity to existing R & D facilities. As a consequence of this the allocated employment land on London Road, north of Nortel Networks is seen as an ideal location for the expansion of this sector, corporate headquarters and other appropriate forms of employment generating development.
ER9 Planning permission will be granted for development that facilitates the expansion of the research and development sector at the employment site on London Road and elsewhere, in locations that cluster such businesses close to existing research and development establishments.
7.10 Economic Diversity
7.10.1 There is a recognised shortage in Harlow of B1, office, studio, high tech, laboratory and light industrial development, and a need for premises to be provided for small businesses in a variety of locations. A range of different sites and premises are needed to attract new businesses to Harlow, support existing home grown businesses and assist local people to set up their own small business in a location close to where they live.
7.10.2 Proposals to develop units for small and start up businesses which are flexible and adaptable for a range of general industrial and office use will be encouraged. In suitable locations it may be appropriate for the development of ‘incubator’ units where some facilities are shared or where rentals include the building overhead costs such as insurance and maintenance.
7.10.3 In Harlow the service areas identified on the Proposals Map have a potential to provide an important employment resource to both the town and their neighbourhood areas. At present the bays are used for a mix of retail and business use classes but the Council wishes to increase the vitality and viability of the neighbourhood centres by encouraging their change of use to B1 Use Class. The service bays are considered appropriate locations for increasing the supply of employment land and providing suitable premises for small or local start up businesses.
ER10 Planning permission will be granted for development providing sites and premises for small businesses within the allocated employment areas, or by a change to Class B1 Use in the neighbourhood service areas.
7.11 Mixed Use
7.11.1 The policies in the Built Environment chapter identify how sustainable development can be addressed through achieving higher densities and following the principles of robust and flexible layouts and mixed use development. These policies are particularly relevant to areas of employment land where they can be applied in order to make the best use of the land available thus reducing development pressure on important areas of green open space and Green Belt.
7.11.2 The concept of mixed use development may offer an alternative approach and a strong sustainable option for employment land, including former industrial sites that are no longer needed for their original purpose and have little prospect of attracting a single user or employment use. A mixed use development should be of a substantial area, suitable for a full range of B1 Uses and able to accommodate light industrial use. Designs will include adequate noise attenuation measures, floor strengths and separate service arrangements. It is essential that ground floor units remain available for workshops or businesses and are not re-absorbed into other uses.
ER11 The conversion or redevelopment of redundant or vacant sites within the urban area, not identified in the Local Plan for any other purpose, to mixed use will be encouraged. However, development should have a primary use of employment with other uses including affordable housing, amenity space, community facilities and commercial development. Mixed use development within the identified Employment Areas will also have to conform with the criteria set in Policy ER6. Mixed uses should:
  1. Be mixed both horizontally and vertically;
  2. Add to the vitality of the area;
  3. Respect neighbouring developments;
  4. Be readily accessible by passenger transport.
7.12 Storage and Distribution
7.12.1 Storage and distribution warehouses make large demands in terms of employment land but only supports comparatively low employment densities. They can also generate large numbers of freight movement that causes pressure on the road infrastructure, further traffic congestion and environmental pollution.
7.12.2 Further development of storage and distribution facilities in Harlow needs careful consideration so as to ensure the possible negative implications are minimised. Any location must be well related to the transport network in terms of ready trunk road access and have the ability or potential to use rail or water for the movement of freight.
ER12 New warehousing, storage and distribution facilities will be permitted if the following criteria are taken into consideration:
  1. 1. Their location has ready access to the railway and/or trunk road network;
  2. 2. There are no adverse environmental impacts due to the levels of traffic generated;
7.13 Education, Training and Childcare
7.13.1 The Council has an identified ‘skills gap’ between the skills that are required by businesses in Harlow and those possessed by the local population. This would indicate that an increase in employment land and economic activity in Harlow would have an increase in in-commuting to the town. Thus an increase in employment would not benefit Harlow as much as if the local people had the skills to benefit from local jobs. Local residents have to be equipped with the skills required by those economic sectors with growth potential.
7.13.2 The provision of affordable and accessible childcare is also needed to reduce the barriers preventing parents from returning to work and reaching their economic earning potential.
7.13.3 Increased education, training and childcare provision will all increase local access to employment. This will have positive implications for the quality of life for all Harlow residents. There will be:
  a) Less unemployment ;
  b) Reduced commuting;
  c) Increased leisure time;
  d) Greater access to jobs for parents and disabled people.
ER13 For new or expanding business, industrial or other employment generating uses in Harlow, provision through planning obligations will be sought for:
  1. Employment of local people;
  2. Work related training provision;
  3. Education opportunities;
  4. Affordable childcare.
  All obligations sought will be in accordance with C1/97.
7.14 Stansted Airport
7.14.1 Stansted Airport is being developed as London’s third main airport after Heathrow and Gatwick. Its current limit of 15 million passengers a year will be reached within the next couple of years. An application proposing expansion to 25 million passengers per annum has recently been granted planning permission by Uttlesford District Council.
7.14.1 This growth will create a large amount of related employment through either ‘direct employment’ which is specifically involved with the daily operation of the airport itself or ‘associated employment’ which are other activities related to the operation of the airport and which require to be in very close proximity to it. This employment can provide important jobs for the people of Harlow who benefit from the WAGN rail services and continued enhancement of bus services to the airport. Although beyond the remit of this Local Plan the Council is also promoting more employment opportunities at Stansted Airport for the people of Harlow.
7.14.3 There is also other economic development, although not directly related to the airport itself, which may wish to locate close to the airport to take advantage of its passengers and airfreight services. Such employment uses include offices, industry, warehousing, leisure, entertainment and conference facilities. Harlow, because of its excellent transport links to both Stansted Airport and central London, is an ideal location for such development; whilst in turn it offers the town a much-needed source of, and opportunity for, further economic regeneration and employment.
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