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Council approves £20m plans for regeneration of Harlow’s arts quarter





A Government-backed £20m regeneration of Harlow’s arts quarter – adding to its offering as a “magnet” for visitors – has been approved.

The town’s district council passed plans last Wednesday (April 10) for the redevelopment of land to the west of Harlow Playhouse, including Occasio House, to provide a new live performance and music venue, major upgrades to the Playhouse and a new public square for events and outdoor performances, cinema and dining.

The scheme also includes an additional building to provide flexible commercial and community floorspace at ground floor level with 47 one- and two-bedroom flats above in the place where Occasio House stood before its demolition last year.

Part of the £20m new look for Harlow town centre
Part of the £20m new look for Harlow town centre

Harlow Playhouse will be extended with a new arts-led Pavilion to include performance space for live entertainment, a music school and recording studio, contemporary café, restaurant and bar.

Alongside will be new studios for arts and entertainment, and flexible spaces that can be used for events, smaller performances and community uses.

Concerns had been raised about the number of parking spaces, including for Blue Badge holders, and safety provisions around a play area. Officers said they were satisfied with the conditions that provided for this.

Part of the £20m new look for Harlow town centre
Part of the £20m new look for Harlow town centre

Cllr James Leppard, a planning committee member, said: “We’ve spoken a lot about parking, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that we have the Harvey Centre car park very close by and we also have the Water Gardens car park very much within walking distance.

“I don’t think we should see this as though it is in complete isolation to the environment which it sits within.

“Overall this town has a strong heritage in the arts, and I think this is a most welcome initiative within the context of the regeneration of the town centre. It will bring people to the town.

“It will enhance the offering to various artistic groups, music and drama, that already operate in the town.

“It will be a magnet and I think we should endorse this wholeheartedly.”



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