Residential tower blocks of more than twenty storeys could be built in an Essex town centre, as documents reveal scaled down plans for redevelopment.

According to planning documents, a revised scheme for land north of the Harvey Centre in Harlow now consists of up to 678 flats across three blocks with a maximum height of 24 storeys.

An environmental impact assessment screening report by Temple Group Ltd for the amended mix-use development was validated by the council on December 7.

According to the report, a previous application earlier this year was refused by the council.

A section reads: “Therefore, to reflect feedback from the council, the current revised proposed development has decreased the massing, height, density, number of units and car parking spaces substantially from the March 2021 application.”

This previous application proposed up to 900 units in buildings ranging between six to 27 storeys.

A scheme for the demolition and “comprehensive redevelopment” of the Harvey Centre was first contested in August 2018.

The report continues to say the current proposals consist of 678 residential units across three blocks.

A fourth block, which according to the report was granted full permission in 2020, would bring the total number of units to 841.

The proposals would also include up to 3,000 square meters of commercial development and up to 34 car parking spaces.

Harlow Council is currently consulting the public on its town centre masterplan, which contains guidance for tall buildings.

Once approved, a final version of this will become a material planning consideration, which means all planning applications will have to take its guidance into account.

However, despite not yet being fully adopted, it can still be used by officers in considering applications and determining recommendations.

The current draft describes building heights of between 14 to 16 storeys as “ambitious”, and says these might be appropriate for the town centre “subject to exemplary design”.

New tall buildings would also have to adhere to certain criteria, for example being partially obscured by lower foreground buildings, or spaced out to avoid clustering.

A section reads: “New tall buildings will be expected to improve and enhance the character and appearance of the local area, by providing an aesthetically‐pleasing design and creating a landmark building. 

“It should also however celebrate the unique design heritage of Harlow and consider design cues from the immediate area and Harlow more generally are followed through in regards to scale, massing, colours, materials and detailing of the original fabric, and the integration of public art and sculpture.”

An updated draft is expected to be voted on by the cabinet in early 2022.