Green Wedges

Harlow’s Green Wedges

Satellite View of Harlow with Green Wedges going to the centre of the town

The landscape design and, in particular, the Green Wedges, are a fundamental part of the town and is a key element contributing to its unique character. They are valued strongly by its residents. Everyone in Harlow has access to natural landscape within easy walking distance. A network of pedestrian lanes and cycle ways provide safe routes to other parts of the town and out to the surrounding countryside without having to mix with road traffic

The landscape plan below shows wedges of agricultural land on the east and west penetrating the town, converging on the Town Centre and bringing rural life into contact with urban. This can be compared to the recent satellite image above; from this it can be seen that the original plan, to a large degree, remains intact.

Harlow Landscape Plan from The Design of Harlow by Frederick Gibberd

The Todd Brook valley links the east and west and divides the town into north and south. The northern half is sub-divided by the Netteswell valley and the southern half is sub-divided by a landscape belt which runs from the Town Centre into the open countryside of Rye Hill: this divided the town into four quarters based on The Stow, Bush Fair, Staple Tye and the Town Centre.

Subsequent developments have taken some of the wedges to the east and west but they remain continuous.

The density of housing areas is generally higher than that of a traditional town; this is offset by the adjoining green wedges. It is a common misconception that Harlow is a low-density town; this perception is due largely to the success of the landscape design with the green wedges coming right into the centre of the town from the surrounding countryside. In fact, the area of Harlow is smaller than many traditional towns of a comparable population, particularly since its density does not decrease from the centre outwards as is normally the case. This is a key constraint and in the Civic Society’s view no development should take place on the Green Wedges.