Harlow is an example of how the new towns forgot the old lessons. Ideally located between London and Cambridge, it hasn’t shared in the rising prosperity of nearby places. We set out to show how sustainable growth on a grand scale could make Harlow work better for residents old and new.
We worked with Ropemaker Properties, BP Pension Fund’s property company, to develop a proposal for 25,000 new homes and 28,000 jobs for Harlow, focused on a sustainable urban extension to the north of the town. In a three-year project, we sat at the heart of the core strategy team, making sure every aspect of the project spoke to a shared vision for sustainable growth. We came up with an overall sustainability strategy to guide the whole project team, from urban designers to costs consultants.
We organised and ran Sustainability Symposia, bringing in national and international experts to talk about the different strands of sustainability for the project. We used these discussions to set the sustainability standards for Harlow North, bringing together energy, water, waste, street design, urban ecology and the community. We wrote The sustainable growth of Harlow to share everything we’d learnt with everyone involved, and we managed the Harlow North website. We encouraged local people to have their say and ask questions – and then brought together answers from appropriate experts. Then we worked on the delivery and implementation team, reviewing the financial model so that it accounted for sustainable whole-life value, and shaping delivery and phasing plans to ensure that the new project would be successfully integrated with Harlow and catalyse regeneration in the existing town.