Harrow Town Centre is facing a possible major transformation over the coming years as the council considers a ‘Masterplan’ to revitalise the area.
The proposed plan is aimed at proactively responding to the challenges and pressures that the town centre is currently facing. The plan was discussed during a recent Planning Policy Advisory Panel meeting (May 4th), where the panel was asked to provide feedback on the proposed approach and offer their comments.
Harrow Town Centre is one of only fourteen Metropolitan Town Centres in the London Plan and the meeting highlighted the importance of this due to potential competition from neighbouring boroughs. Metropolitan Centres typically contain at least 100,000 sqm of retail, leisure and service floorspace with a significant proportion of high-order comparison goods relative to convenience goods. These centres generally have ‘very good accessibility and significant employment, service and leisure functions’, according to the Greater London Authority website.
The proposed Harrow Town Centre Masterplan SPD seeks to define and describe its future, taking into account the social and economic changes within the borough. It is expected that the Masterplan SPD will be adopted as a material consideration in determining planning applications, providing clear guidance on the future of the town centre and how it will benefit the borough in the long term.
During the meeting, the panel was presented with initial findings from a scoping report on Harrow Town Centre, which highlighted the changes that have occurred since the establishment of the Area Action Plan in 2013, including the increasing popularity of online shopping, the evolving role of the town centre and high street, and the shift in consumer spending patterns due to e-commerce. The report also highlighted the changes resulting from the pandemic, including the new ways of working and lifestyle patterns that have emerged.
The strategic land holdings mentioned in the plan are said to be crucial to the future development of the town centre. The sites below have been identified as having a significant impact on future growth.
Harrow on the Hill Underground Station and Harrow Bus Station – Important transport hubs in the area, serving thousands of commuters every day. The proposed redevelopment of these sites would not only improve transport links but also create new opportunities for retail, leisure and residential development.
Kings House and Queens House – Landmark buildings in Harrow, and their redevelopment presents a unique opportunity to enhance the architectural character of the area. The plan envisages that the buildings will be refurbished to provide modern office space and additional facilities, which will add to the vibrancy of the town centre.
Greenhill Way Car Park – The large car park in the town centre is also being considered for redevelopment. The plan acknowledges that the site’s current use as a car park is unsustainable, and proposes that the area be developed into a mixed-use development that will include housing, retail and leisure facilities.
Other major development sites adjacent to Harrow Town Centre, such as Poets Corner, Peel Road, Milton Road and Byron Park, are also important considerations in the plan. Although not within the town centre itself as such, these sites are in close proximity, and their development will have a significant impact on the area.
Whilst the plan will provide a clear vision for the future of the town centre, taking into account the changes in consumer behaviour, the impact of the pandemic, and the evolving role of the high street, it remains to be seen what will these changes mean for the town’s residents, business owners and community as we move forward.