Playhouse Quarter

New Town Centre Scheme

The transformation of Playhouse and College Square in Harlow into a new arts and cultural go to destination have moved a step closer to construction with the submission of a planning application.

The application for the £20m Harlow Arts and Cultural Quarter has been validated by the council’s planning team with consultation on the plans set to start shortly. Following consultation, a decision on the application will be made before 7 March 2024.

Thousands of residents have been involved in the design of the new scheme, both before the bid was made to the Government, and since the money has been awarded with many having a say on the plans by visiting the council’s Discover Harlow Hub in the Harvey Centre.

Digital mockup of the new Playhouse Square in Harlow

The scheme, which is being funded by the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, will form a new western gateway as part of the regeneration of Harlow town centre.

The scheme will complement Harlow Playhouse’s current offer as well as bring forward a range of new and improved spaces such as:

  • Flexible live performance and exhibition spaces
  • New café/restaurant and booking office for the Playhouse
  • Music school and recording studios
  • Flexible studio spaces for commercial and community use
  • New location for the Gibberd Gallery
  • Improved public realm to provide opportunities for performances and a new public square and pocket-park
  • Upgrades to the Haydens Road underpass
  • 47 high-quality residential apartments

The existing taxi rank will be relocated along with the disabled parking and rear access will be maintained for businesses trading in The Water Gardens.

The submission of the application kicks off a busy year for the regeneration of the town centre with the demolition completed of the derelict Occasio House site and work starting on the redevelopment of Market Square. The council will shortly publish exciting plans for Market Square and updated plans for Broad Walk and Terminus Street with work expected to start on these three sites in the coming months.

Councillor Dan Swords, Leader of Harlow Council, said:

“We’re kicking off 2024 as we mean to go on to rebuild our town and put the heart back into Harlow town centre. With the Harlow Arts and Cultural Quarter scheme application submitted and work underway to get major transformation projects started, 2024 is going to be the year that the regeneration of Harlow town centre finally starts with so much construction work scheduled for the coming months.

“This scheme is just one phase of our town centre regeneration and I would invite all residents to find out more about all of our plans in the Discover Harlow Hub in the Harvey Centre.”

The Discover Harlow Hub is next to The Works and is open every Thursday from 10am to 2pm.

Aerial view of the new Playhouse Square in Harlow