An Essex council has unveiled plans to build a new live music venue, studios for creative and performing arts and an art gallery in a new cultural quarter of its town centre.

Harlow Council has been asked by the government to resubmit its bid for £20million in levelling up funding to redevelop Playhouse Square and College Square, and unveiled its vision on Monday night (June 27).

In a statement, the council said it wants to create an arts and cultural quarter near Playhouse Theatre and St Paul’s Church.


The redevelopment would consist of a new live music venue, which would also include a music school and recording studio.

Also planned are a bar and café and an art gallery for literary arts, spoken word, education events and visiting exhibitions and installations.

There would be further studio spaces for artists, creative and performing arts, rehearsals, smaller and outdoor performances and other community uses, according to the statement.

Deputy council leader Councillor Dan Swords (Con, Bush Fair) said in the statement: “I am delighted that we can unveil our improved and exciting plans for the transformation of Playhouse Square and College Square with our Harlow Arts and Culture Quarter proposals. 

“These plans are about creating a vibrant new quarter of the town centre bringing together the arts, culture, live music, and events. These plans are all part of what we aim to deliver for the complete regeneration of Harlow town centre and there will be more announcements to be made in the coming weeks. 

“I would like to thank the council officers who have been involved in updating and improving our plans and I look forward to submitting our Harlow Arts and Culture Quarter bid to government shortly.”

According to the statement, the scheme would also provide a pedestrian-focused public square, which could host events, outdoor performances, cinema, and outdoor dining.

There would also be a green pocket park, upgrades to the underpass beneath Haydens Road, new residential housing at the previous Occasio House site and an upgraded taxi rank.

The spaces would be accessibly designed and include disable parking, the statement continues.

Opposition leader Chris Vince (Labour, Little Parndon and Hare Street) said in a statement: “We welcome this funding bid and the plans and will work with the administration in any way we can.

“As with a lot of promises this administration is making, we will have to wait and see if it ever happens. Drawings are one thing, actual spades in the ground is another.”