Templefields is an existing industrial estate of around 80,000m² and was part of the earliest employment development of Harlow New Town. It is a complex landscape with a multiplicity of landowners and a decaying environmental landscape, making it difficult to attract the type of businesses that we might wish to see in the Enterprise Zone. However, there are strong occupancy rates, demonstrating that at some levels the estate is functioning well. A ‘do nothing’ option would continue to see the estate ticking over for several years into the future with, largely, low grade uses and a gradually deteriorating environment.
However, this misses the point about the opportunity that potentially exists for Templefields. Harlow can do better than maintain the status quo and Templefields can help to deliver the vision that we have for the town in the future with a thriving, prosperous economy within the London Stansted Cambridge corridor. There are already some exciting businesses here (e.g. Astro Lighting, Sims Engineering, Lesney Industries) and we can build on these to create a more dynamic business environment. The re-development of Templefields should be seen as a long term project and one which is concerned with planning for the future and where we might see Harlow in 15 – 20 years.
A Vision for Templefields
Over the course of a generation a phased re-development at Templefields can be undertaken for it to become the home of growing SMEs housed in high quality small business workspace developments.
Its focus should be on manufacturing and associated design occupations, perhaps also providing opportunities for businesses in the ICT sector moving on from the Tech City cluster in east London and/or seeking cheaper locations to London and Cambridge. The delivery of superfast broadband to the site, completed in 2015, will aid the attraction of these businesses.
The site will benefit from excellent transport connections with a new road access from the Cambridge Road and a future fast link to the M11 Junction 7a. Improved pedestrian access to Harlow Mill station (which today is almost non-existent) will enable ease of connection to London and Cambridge with the station just a few minutes walking distance away.
The catalyst for this opportunity is the delivery of road infrastructure and the proximity of the estate to Harlow Mill station. The roadworks to be delivered in 2018 to open up the eastern end of River Way to the Cambridge Road not only will ease current traffic congestion on the estate but open it up for future development. When this is combined with a new motorway junction by 2021, with a link road coming in to the east of Harlow, the opportunity for Templefields becomes very significant. This will inevitably have an impact upon land values and upon the viability of re-development.
Proposed short term actions – 2014 - 2020
- Construct the new road access connecting River Way to Cambridge Road – DELIVERY - 2019.
- Undertake a comprehensive analysis of the current business community to identify ownerships, leasehold interests, occupancy, employment levels, future plans and development opportunities. WORK UNDERWAY
- Work with BT and Essex County Council to establish a clear programme and timetable for the delivery of superfast broadband services to the estate – DELIVERED JUNE 2014 - JULY 2015.
- Undertake a programme of environmental improvements to improve the immediate appearance of the estate.
- Identify options with Essex County Council for the potential re-location of the Civic Amenity Site and develop a business case for this to be achieved – WORK UNDERWAY.
- Commission a Development Appraisal for a potential ‘ideal’ new build small business workspace scheme on the Civic Amenity Site. This will also be an essential part of the business case for re-location, as we will need to identify a viable replacement activity – WORK UNDERWAY.
Longer Term Actions – 2018 and beyond
- Work with existing land owners on re-development options and produce a potential phasing plan for the next 25 years.
- Deliver the re-location of the Civic Amenity Site and work with Essex County Council to attract a development partner to produce a replacement scheme.
- Work with DCLG, DfT and Network Rail to explore the feasibility of a new footbridge to Harlow Mill Station and the creation of an improved pedestrian access to the estate from the railway station.
Templefields also benefits from a relaxed planning regime. The document relating to the Local Development Order can be accessed through the link below: