Harlow Town Park masterplan
The redevelopment of Harlow Town Park is taking a masterplanning approach thanks to the involvement of CABE’s enablers.
Harlow Town Park was starting to show its age despite isolated examples of investment. Much of the original planting added to the character and potential but some of the infrastructure was beginning to crumble. In particular, the pet’s corner was causing fundamental management problems.
The children’s play area and a skate park have already been improved, while funding has been secured to move the pet’s corner. A Heritage Lottery Fund bid for £3.5m is being made to take the project forward.
How CABE’s enabling helped
- favoured a masterplan approach over individual schemes and interventions
- brought new ideas into the design process from Harvard Design School students
- undertook successful public and stakeholder consultation with the client team
- made the team more aware what could be achieved through CABE’s guidance
- built confidence in the project team and transferred key skills.
At first, the role of the enabler was not fully understood by the client. As a result the client’s requirements and expectations grew as the project progressed.
Officers now feel more able to undertake public consultation, having developed the skills needed to prepare for and run events successfully.
Harlow Town Park was laid out at the time of the new town development around 50 years ago. It is about one mile outside the town centre and within a major ring road. Its key features are:
- a small lake and water features
- a pet’s corner
- a children’s play area
- a sensory garden
- sports pitches
- a network of paths and cycle ways.
The park was originally intended to be accessible from the town centre but is not close enough or well linked by pedestrian routes.
A group of students from Harvard University, under the tuition of celebrated landscape architect Martha Schwartz, adopted the park as their project. The designs produced were considered as a basis for taking the project forward.
The development of the park from 2004 was steered by the Town Park Strategy Group of Harlow Council in association with Groundwork and CABE. CABE realised that the council’s ambition for the park was capable of significant further development.
The plan for enabling support was to provide:
- assistance with raising ambition for the park and guidance in undertaking a masterplanning exercise as a framework for maximising the potential of the park
- an injection of ideas and design concepts to create a set of possibilities that had not been considered.
- support with public and stakeholder consultation to enhance the final proposals and to engender local support.
- support with appointing a consultant to undertake the master planning process through to delivery.
The initial stage was to develop a long term vision through consultation with key stakeholders. The enabler played a crucial role in advising on how this should be done.
Each of the stakeholder organisations was asked to identify three key areas or issues that they felt needed to be addressed. The resulting report was used to inform council investment proposals and future bids for financial support.
By involving the Harvard students a set of more ambitious design proposals were produced. These formed a framework for discussion and raised the aspirations of the key stakeholders.
The main proposals from the designs were to:
- expand formal event spaces
- introduce more water
- improve access and parking
- improve connections to the station
- build better links to the town centre
- increase visibility into the park
- enhance routes to the Stort river
- join the park to the gateway site.
The design proposals fed into the brief along with the views of the stakeholders and local people. The enabler assisted the council in preparing this and in interviewing designers to develop the masterplan, which has since been published.
The main elements of the Harlow Town masterplan are to:
- improve access, parking and infrastructure
- create core centres for new facilities
- enhance and improve sports facilities
- establish a support structure for events and activities
- enhance new water features and to improve the connections with the River Stort
- strengthen existing themed areas
- identify sites for potential development
- establish strategic principles and connectivity with Harlow’s green corridors
- create new gateways
- improve pedestrian connections
- create new visual links.
These elements will be developed through:
- new Horticultural Training Centre
- refurbishment of the Band Stand
- a new skate park
- a new café
- a lake.
The proposals for implementing the master plan formed the basis of an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). CABE Space provided an enabler with expertise in this area to assist the council in putting a bid together. The council has secured match funding through Groundwork and its own capital resources.
Town Park Strategy Group, Harlow District Council:
- Joanna Beamont
- Paul Bird
- Patrick Smith
- Suzanne Prunty
- Dianne Cooper
- Mandy Hood
- Joe McGill
- Lynn Seward
- Gill Penny
- Chris Purves
- Gill Taylor
- Alex Rook (lead enabler)
- Peter Neal (CABE Space)