Project Background

You’re bound to want to further details about Gilston Park Estate. Below you can find some of the frequent questions we’ve been asked about the project.

The development at Gilston Area will deliver up to 10,000 new homes set across 7 distinct and individual villages and supported by a £600m transport and social infrastructure package which will include significant highway improvements as well as education, health and community facilities.

The Gilston Area development is being promoted by Places for People (PfP) and City & Provincial Properties (CPP) to deliver up to 10,000 new homes across 7 villages to the north of Harlow. Six of these villages make up Gilston Park Estate and are being brought forward by PfP; with the remaining village (Briggens Estate) being brought forward by CPP.

Our proposals at Gilston Area will deliver 10,000 homes, helping to address the local housing needs of East Herts and supporting the lasting economic regeneration of Harlow. East Herts District Council currently estimates that the area requires 19,500 new homes over the next 20 years, and the council has allocated the site as a suitable area to accommodate over half of the district’s housing need until 2033 and beyond.

Yes, the area needs homes for local people, families and workers to live comfortably and affordably. This has not appeared overnight: East Herts District Council has said it needs to build at least 19,500 homes over 20 years. Harlow Council has forecast that it needs to build at least 7,500 new homes, increasing to as many as 20,000 to diversify the housing mix in the area and to support the town’s regeneration.

‘The Gilston Area’ is the area identified within the East Herts District Plan as a sustainable location for the development of up to 10,000 new homes which will help meet the region’s housing needs. ‘Gilston Park Estate’ is Places for People’s proposed development, located within the Gilston Area, which would contribute 8,500 homes towards the total 10,000. It is the historic name for the land that we own. The additional 1,500 will be delivered by through another scheme led by City and Provincial Property (CPP) on adjoining land currently known as the Briggens Estate.

Places for People are the sole owners of the land that will form ‘Gilston Park Estate’. City and Provincial Properties own the adjoining piece of land, to the south-west of GPE, which is currently known as the ‘Briggens Estate’. Together we own the land needed to deliver 10,000 homes.

Places for People has sought to engage with communities from the outset of taking ownership of the Gilston Park Estate site, having undertaken several years of engagement prior to the introduction of local and national policy mandating engagement with local stakeholders. We have continued to maintain and exceeded these consultation requirements following the introduction of these policies and will continue to do so through the development of detailed masterplans and other planning processes associated with development of Gilston Park Estate.

There has been a significant evolution of the proposals, and prior to PfP’s involvement in 2009, the Ropemaker scheme had not only put forward a significantly higher housing figure of 25,000 homes,but there was a lack of commitment to vital transport and social infrastructure. Places for People’s masterplan is fundamentally different. It centres on a series of new villages with green corridors and parkland between with the historic Gilston Park House as the centrepiece in an enhanced parkland setting. The original proposal was for up to 25,000 new homes, of which 16,000 was proposed on our land. The Gilston Area proposal is for up to 10,000 houses. Gilston Park Estate will account for 8,500 of these 10,000 new homes, across a series of six distinct and individual villages, to help address the local housing needs of East Herts. The development would be supported by over £500million for a transport and community infrastructure package, to include significant highway improvements as well as schools, health, leisure and community facilities.

Places for People is leading this proposal, developing six of the seven villages, with City and Provincial Properties promoting the seventh village. Places for People are one of the largest development and property management companies in the UK and are different from traditional land owners and house builders. We don’t sell land or houses and move on, but make a long-term commitment and investment in communities, working with local people to provide the services and infrastructure they need

East Herts District Council and Harlow Council have confirmed that there are very few suitable brownfield sites left. Given the scale of the local housing need and the need to regenerate Harlow, green field locations need to be considered. Bringing development forward in large schemes is the most efficient use of green field land and is the most sustainable way to deliver significant numbers of homes, while also facilitating the regeneration of Harlow. The alternative is piecemeal development which is likely to include fields around communities such as Ware, Hertford and Stortford. We think many people would prefer a new location rather than further development in these places – and development in these locations would fail to achieve the regeneration of Harlow.

The planning policy that exists for the site within Policy GA1 of the East Herts District Plan identifies the need for the site to safeguard areas for Gypsies and Travellers. In the planning application we did not identify specific locations for those sites, rather we suggested that over time if the need for sites was shown we would find appropriate locations. Since the application has been submitted, the local authority has confirmed that they would like to identify specific sites to allow for that potential provision in the future if it is required. At the time the community webinars took place, the location for those potential sites was under consideration and we are continuing to work with East Herts DC on this issue. Since then, PfP has agreed to show two locations for potential Gyspsies and Travellers sites, one close to the A414 and one on the northern edge of Gilston Park Estate. Whether either of these sites is needed for use and how and when it might happen will be subject to further assessment.

The outline planning stage establishes a series of parameters and principles which will inform the subsequent Strategic Landscape and Village Masterplans and in turn the reserved matters planning applications. The Environmental Impact Assessment (“EIA”) process, reported in the Environmental Statement (“ES”) and ES Non-Technical Summary, has used these parameters and principles to assess the likely significant positive and negative environmental effects of the proposed development. The maximum potential amount of development that planning permission is sought for has been assessed rather than the illustrative scheme, which has sometimes been used in previous public consultations. On the land which remains in green belt, chapters on landscape and visual, archaeology, built heritage, biodiversity, air quality, noise, ground conditions, water resources, agriculture and soils, and utilities and services are potentially relevant. In terms of ancient woodland, these have been considered as part of the Environmental Statement in tree surveys (to British Standard BS 5837) which are included in the Arboricultural Impact Assessment (see Environmental Statement Volume 3, Appendix 13.4). The nine blocks of ancient woodland are marked on the Parameter Plans as being retained and a 20m buffer is proposed to protect these areas. Landscape Management Plans (to be secured by planning condition) will also contain a range of measures to protect the existing landscape features of the site, such as protective fencing to the outer edge of the 20m buffers.

PfP have submitted a Sustainability Strategy with the planning application, the commitments from which they propose to be formally tied to in any future planning permission. For example, PfP commit to:

  • Ensuring environmental sustainability principles are embedded at all stages of our decision-making process, from design, procurement, implementation, operation and stewardship.
  • Harness innovation and embed the principles of adaptability to allow Gilston Park Estate to embrace future environmental, social and economic change.
  • Work through partnership with the public sector, designers, contractors, existing communities and the future communities of Gilston Park Estate, as well as landowners and developers to help achieve a list of aims covering placemaking, biodiversity, water resources, waste, soil resources and food systems, energy and carbon efficiency, climate change resilience and sustainable transport.

In addition, as part of the application specific sustainability commitments have been identified such a minimum 10% net biodiversity gain and a commitment to 60% of trips being made by sustainable modes. These form a core part of the planning application submitted. In addition, the Sustainability Strategy contains a number of specific actions and targets related to water usage, energy and carbon efficiency and waste which will be used as a starting point for developing future Village Masterplans.

Because it is recognised that over time standards, best practice and guidelines will inevitably change, PfP have also made an overarching commitment in the Development Specification to meet, or where possible exceed, building regulations requirements and incorporate best practice measures. Where East Herts DC or future guidance goes beyond our commitments, we would review these matters as part of the Village Masterplan or at the detailed design (reserved matters) stage.