Garden Towns Conference 

Michael Hardware spoke at the Garden Communities and New Towns Conference held in October in Kensington Town Hall, London, organised by the UK Real Estate Investment and Infrastructure Forum (UKREiiF).

Speakers relayed progress on the many new garden communities coming forward across the UK. Hardware described the progress of the Harlow & Gilston Garden Town (HGGT) which is set to deliver 16,000 new homes and 23,000 new jobs in the next ten years. This is growth of 44% and 50% on the existing respectively and will make HGGT the fastest growing area in the country.   

HGGT was created in 2017 and is different to other garden communities: whereas garden towns tend to be new settlements, HGGT is the expansion of an existing town. It is in two counties and three districts, a partnership between five councils: Harlow, Epping, East Herts, Essex and Hertfordshire.

There will be significant infrastructure included in that growth including a £172million Housing Infrastructure Grant to fund two river crossings, a new railway bridge and a strategic transport corridor network, together with £1.5billion of S106 monies covering a multitude of mitigations from bus services to libraries, schools, leisure centres, hatch regeneration, the harlow Playhouse and cycleways.

The Government announced £820million investment in a new hospital and medical campus for Harlow earlier in the year. It is expected to confirm the near £1billion investment in a new headquarters for UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England) imminently. Both these will attract additional investment into the town in addition to the existing Innovation Park and Enterprise Zone.

 The growth will provide a greater catchment for the existing town centre which, itself, is going through massive regeneration. This is being funder by £40million from the Towns Fund and the Levelling Up Fund, together with the £50million Harlow Investment Fund. There will be a new bus terminus, culture quarter, market square and Broadwalk regeneration, more than 2,000 new apartments and modifications to the existing Playhouse and shopping centre. 

Harlow was one of the new towns built after the war: it is now entering a new era of growth and regeneration.

Apart from being the director of planning and property at Chelgate Local, Michael is the cabinet portfolio holder for economic development at Harlow District Council, a board member of the Harlow & Gilston Garden Town, and chair of the Property Review Task Force at Essex County Council.