New transport links, public gardens and hubs for culture, retail and hospitality could be coming to Harlow, as councillors prepare to vote on a new masterplan for the town centre.

Harlow Council’s cabinet will vote on whether to endorse a draft planning document next week, which would see the town centre divided into separate hubs for transport, hospitality, leisure, culture and retail.

According to the draft, the distance between the town centre and Harlow Town train station is acting as a “barrier” to growth, so better transport links are needed to improve economic performance.

Tall buildings will be permitted in the town, however the draft seeks to provide criteria which will need to be met by developers wanting to build towers over six storeys.

Epping Forest Guardian: An aerial view of the proposed 'key spaces'. (Image: Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners)An aerial view of the proposed 'key spaces'. (Image: Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners)

But this guidance won’t become a material consideration for all future planning applications for the town until a final version has been adopted by the cabinet.

A section of the draft supplementary planning document reads: “In the future, Harlow Town Centre will be a successful, sustainable place which serves as the commercial centre for the existing town of Harlow and the wider Garden Town. “The town centre will play an important part in helping Harlow and Gilston to step up to a more active economic role within the UK’s Innovation Corridor.”

“In order to do this, the town centre will have a diverse mix of shops and services; offer high quality office and employment spaces; civic and wide ranging leisure uses including cafés and restaurants; and a thriving evening economy and cultural offer.”

According to a council report, a “northern transport hub and gateway” on Terminus Street would aim to better connect the town centre with the station, Harlow and Gilston Garden Town and surrounding areas.

Stone Cross Square would act as a hospitality hub, with open space for outdoor dining and trading.

The council report continues to say a new northern garden in West Square would complement the Water Gardens.

Additionally, Playhouse Quarter would diversify the offer of Harlow Playhouse, providing further indoor and outdoor arts and cultural events.

Finally, the current administration hopes Broad Walk, which is already home to many high street brands, will provide an improved retail offer.

This comes after a broader Town Plan, which included plans to lobby for a London Underground station in Harlow, was endorsed by the cabinet last month, and is currently awaiting the results of a public consultation.

The cabinet will vote on endorsing the vision for the town centre on October 14 2021.

If approved, it will then go to public consultation before a final version returns to the cabinet for approval.