Reports of children who are frightened to go home and can’t sleep at night because they are “petrified”; concerns about the potential for grooming of vulnerable adults and youngsters; suspected drug dealing; alcohol-fuelled bad behaviour; incidents of domestic abuse … Harlow in Essex is being left to pick up the pieces because London councils are “socially cleansing” their boroughs and sending hundreds of vulnerable and troubled people to live in converted office blocks in the town.

That is the claim from some politicians and officials in Harlow, which appears to have become a flashpoint for a government policy that allows developers to cram huge numbers of “rabbit hutch” flats into unused office buildings without planning permission.

Harlow was built after the second world war to ease overcrowding in the capital. Seventy years on, some locals claim the town has become a “dumping ground” for people on London council waiting lists.

Harlow’s Conservative MP Robert Halfon said recently that the office-to-residential boom has been “a disaster”, as London councils have “socially cleansed” their residents and sent hundreds of “troubled families” to his constituency.

There is clearly money to be made. Guardian Money can reveal that one of the companies apparently making a fortune in rental income from two of the biggest office-to-residential conversions in Harlow, and a string of other developments in the south of England, is Croydon-based property group Caridon.

This is the same group behind plans to squeeze 26 studio flats into a building on an industrial estate in Balham, south London, which Money featured on 2 March in an article headlined “Will these be the worst new ‘rabbit hutch’ flats in Britain?”.

According to its website, Caridon is run by Mario Carrozzo, who has “generated a self-made property portfolio worth in excess of £100m”. The group says its goal is “to maximise return on investment while helping to ease the housing crisis with bespoke, inexpensive, modern accommodation for those with challenging requirements”.

Planning documents indicate some of its flats are less than half the recommended minimum floor area for a new home. However, the company told us: “The homes are not intended as a permanent living solution, with tenants typically staying 12 months, and by making them compact we can help house more people.” It adds that it invests significantly in its residents’ wellbeing.

It was only in May 2013 that ministers changed the rules so that offices could be turned into housing without planning permission – but this policy has already had a huge impact on towns such as Harlow and Crawley in West Sussex.

In Harlow the council has identified 13 office blocks that have been converted, resulting in more than 1,000 individual flats. While on the face of it that might sound like a good thing when the UK is arguably not building nearly enough homes, some of these flats are very small, and the majority are located in industrial areas, which can throw up problems with access to public transport, schools, health services and shops, as well as road safety dangers and air quality.

About 40% of the 1,000-plus flats in Harlow are owned and managed by Caridon, whose latest big development in the town is Terminus House, a nine-storey 1960s office building that sits on top of a multistorey car park. This has been converted into more than 200 flats and opened its doors to its first tenants last April. The company also owns two-storey Templefields House, which according to Harlow council now contains 180 flats, and houses a mixture of social and private tenants.

Planning documents indicate that some of the Templefields House flats measure as little as 18 sq metres. National space standards state that the minimum floor area for a new one-bedroom one-person home (including conversions) is 37 sq metres. However, these minimum sizes are not compulsory.

One resident living at Templefields House with her partner and two children told the EssexLive news website in May 2018 that she “struggles” to live in the “tiny” flat, adding: “My bed is in my living area… bed is in my kitchen area and my daughter’s cot is in the living area.” She said she had to pull her son out of nursery as it was too far away, adding: “There is a very busy road nearby. Huge lorries come rushing down.”

Among those objecting to the Templefields House conversion was Harlow Civic Society, which argued that as an industrial area this was a “totally inappropriate” location for people to live, adding: “There are no facilities nearby that are essential for civilised family life.”

Both Terminus and Templefields were allowed to go ahead. Under so-called “permitted development rights” (PDR), office-to-residential conversions don’t require the permission of the local planning authority.

A Harlow council report stated: “It is evident that properties ripe for this type of development are cheaper to purchase in some parts of Essex than in London, and it provides London boroughs and other councils with something of a solution to the ever-increasing demand for temporary and other types of accommodation in their own areas.”

It added that “the negative impact on families placed out-of-area can be huge”, with people left feeling “isolated and unsupported”, and potentially exposed to antisocial and criminal behaviour.

Mark Ingall, Harlow council’s Labour leader, told Money that it is “a disgrace” that London boroughs are packing their families off to Harlow and using “often unsuitable” converted office blocks in the town to deal with their housing shortages.

“These already vulnerable families are … being forced to live miles away from their communities, their families and friends and where they work or where their children go to school. The London boroughs that make that decision and the government who created the permitted development rules could stop this now,” he says.

A Harlow council report published last October said concerns had been reported about families with children being housed in converted offices. While not yet fully substantiated, these included a high volume of calls to Essex police, suspected drug-dealing and drug use, incidents of domestic abuse resulting in the police being called, and “lone males hanging around the site leading to concerns about the potential for grooming of vulnerable adults and children”.

It added: “Some resident children attending Harlow schools have apparently told school staff they are frightened to go home and are unable to sleep at night due to being petrified.”

So what do we know about the Caridon group? On its website it says it is projected to increase its property portfolio to 5,000 residential units by 2020. The latest accounts for Caridon Holdings, for the year ending 31 March 2018, lists a string of sites described as investment properties, including the two Harlow developments.

There are also several sites in Crawley, including Ashburn House (for which floor plans suggest that some flats are as small as 15 sq metres), Maplehurst House, Sutherland House and Central House.

The accounts state that the 2018 value of the investment properties was £113m, and that the profit for the year – also expressed as total comprehensive income – was £11.2m.

Caridon Property said: “Working in partnership with charities and local authorities such as Harlow council, we provide affordable and social rent accommodation to individuals and families on low incomes and in difficult circumstances … The majority of our residents in Harlow are originally from the area.”

It added: “While we are a profit-making business, we invest significantly in our residents’ wellbeing by hosting regular community events and creating new facilities … We collaborate extensively with organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, Harlowsave and Rainbow Services … Caridon Group also has a charitable foundation whose sole aim is to help our residents better their situation.”

Caridon said the Harlow council report was “several months old” and included claims the report admitted were not wholly substantiated. “Our building managers have never had any dealings with the police concerning some of the serious crimes listed, including the grooming of children.”

It also said: “The financial information listed also refers to the wider Caridon Group and not Caridon Property, the company that operates both buildings .”

Caridon said the company had offered the Guardian guided tours and interviews with tenants. It put us in touch with two current Templefields House tenants and two ex-tenants, all of whom spoke positively about the building and Caridon.

One of them, Susannah Gladwin, who lives in a Templefields House flat with her partner, daughter, six, and son, two, told us: “To be fair, I think it’s perfectly safe … there are massive security gates, and you have to have a key fob to get in.” She said that when she moved in just over two years ago, “there was quite a bit of dramas going on”, but since then there has been new management. “Everything has completely changed, and there’s been no trouble at all – my daughter doesn’t feel scared any more.”

Harrogate Tourist Information Centre

Whilst visiting Harrogate make your first stop the Tourist Information Centre located in the magnificent Royal Baths at the historic heart of the town.
Our experienced and knowledgeable staff will be able to help you make the most of your visit supplying information on Harrogate and the surrounding area. If you are looking for a place to stay our staff will be able to assist you with booking accommodation. We can also make advance reservations for your next destination.
Harrogate Tourist Information Centre has a wide range of publications, local guides, maps and souvenirs to help you make the most of your visit. We look forward to welcoming you to Harrogate.
Advice on Local Accommodation and Book a Bed Ahead Service (both locally and nationally).
Information on What to See and Where to Eat throughout the area.
UK Holiday Information – we have brochures for destinations all over the UK. Theatre Bookings for York, Leeds and Bradford.
Other ticket sales: Great Yorkshire Show, Harrogate Flower Show and many more local events.
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We also sell locally produced jams and chutneys, teas and Harrogate Spa Water.
Extensive local information (eg where to park, shopping, local markets, Farmers’ Markets and antiques).

Visitor Information Centre Harrogate: Hours, Address, Visitor Information Centre Harrogate Reviews: 4.5/5

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Harrogate

Harrogate War Memorial © TAB

The elegant town of Harrogate is one of the most beautifully laid-out towns in England. Much of its Victorian architecture still remains intact, with fine mellow stonework, wide tree lined streets and colourful parks and gardens.

The centre is packed with excellent period architecture, plush hotels, Regency houses, tea rooms and a good selection of shops; including many bespoke outlets and interesting little boutiques.

Harrogate became the first town in England to have the title Spa added to it. Its popularity grew in the 18th-c, when a physician Timothy Bight claimed that the sulphur and iron rich waters afforded healing qualities. The town attracted tourists in such great numbers they eventually exceeded its population. By the 1850s over 30,000 visitors a year came to take the waters. The original 19th-c Royal Pump Room (now a museum), stands on the edge of the town, where adventurous visitors can still taste its pungent waters. There are actually around eighty different wells in the town, no two of them exactly alike, and all claiming to have some beneficial health value.

Parks and open areas of grassland give the town a spacious air. Prospect Square, in the centre of the town, is one of its many fine open spaces. The Stray (200 acres of common land), is a also popular place for walks and picnics. The Valley Gardens and their extension, the Crescent Gardens, have well tended flower-beds and lawns and are full of colour and interest all year round.

The town is located in an ideal centre for access to the Yorkshire dales. The area also hosts a number of important annual events including French and Italian weeks and an annual festival of arts and sciences.


Victoria Shopping Centre © TAB

Places of interest to visit in Harrogate

The Royal Pump Room Museum

The Royal Pump Room became England’s first public baths in 1842. Built over a sulphur well, previously named The Stinking Spaw! The museum tells of the glory of Harrogate’s Spa heyday and how the local waters were believed to cure a wide variety of skin diseases, digestive disorders and rheumatic complaints. Other exhibits cover local history, Victoriana, costumes, pottery and an antique dolls house. The museum also contains a stunning Egyptian collection, plus temporary exhibitions of social history.

The Royal Baths

Built in 1897, the original Victorian Royal Baths closed in 1969. However, after complete restoration in 2004 the Turkish Baths reopened as a modern leisure facility and contemporary spa. The building’s elegant assembly rooms are still used for fairs, meetings and conferences.

The Royal Hall

Edwardian style theatre built in 1903 for evening enjoyment after taking the waters. Originally named the Kursaal, it is now Harrogate’s main entertainment and conference centre. It features a lovely horseshoe-shaped balcony and ornate ceilings.

Mercer Art Gallery

Displays a fine collection of over 2000 oils and water-colours by local artists, plus a regular series of changing exhibitions of painting, photography, sculpture and crafts. Free Entry.

Valley Gardens


Valley Gardens in Spring © TAB

A lovely sheltered park set in a shallow valley that provides a very attractive area to walk, very much as it did in Victorian times. The Sun Colonnade (along the northern edge), is a lovely 600ft glass-covered walkway that leads to a glass-domed Sun Pavilion, with tea-rooms and a concert hall. Dotted around the garden are 36 mineral wells, from which water was pumped to the Royal Baths Hospital. Free Entry.

RHS Harlow Car Gardens

Located on the edge of the town, these show gardens contains a comprehensive collection of flora and experimental horticulture, in a natural dell setting. Visitors can enjoy over 60 acres of ornamental beds, borders, woodland, rock gardens, scented gardens and a long stream-side garden, noted for its moisture-loving plants. It is also noted for its extensive vegetable gardens, greenhouses, trial beds and lily ponds. These award winning gardens hosts the national collections of hypericum, heathers, rhubarb and ferns.

RHS Garden Harlow Carr

One of England’s most relaxing and innovative gardens at the gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, Harlow Carr is a showcase of horticultural excellence. Be inspired by contemporary planting in the main borders; pick up growing techniques in the Kitchen Garden and saunter along the Streamside garden, the largest of its kind in the country. Unearth the hidden treasures in the woodland and take in the rejuvenated Scented Garden. Young ones can have fun on the Log Ness Monster and in the Woodland Tree House and enjoy school holiday activities. Year round events include gardening themed weekends, family holiday activities, plant fairs, food and drink festivals, outdoor music, theatre and film, and guided tours and trails.
Don’t miss Harlow Carr’s second Flower Show this year taking place on 23 – 25 June.
The extensive RHS Shop and Plant Centre is home to a huge array of books, home wares and gifts, as well as a large plant selection. And no visit would be complete without a trip to Bettys Café Tea Rooms all with ample free parking on the edge of Harrogate.

Reduce the entrance fee – RHS Garden Harlow Carr

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        • Betty,s cafe afternoon tea .
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        • Just stunning!
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        • Whatever the Weather ….. worth a visit!
        • great for kids
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RHS Harlow Carr

Harlow Carr is an attractive Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) garden in Harrogate, Yorkshire. It started life as a Botanical Gardens back in 1950 but was originally the grounds of a hotel and Spa. The whole site covers 58 acres and the aim of the garden is to show what kinds of plants can be grown in a northern climate.

There are many highlights at Harlow Carr including the sandstone rock garden, the kitchen garden, the main borders, the wildflower meadow, the stream-side walk and a really funky tree house for kids. The garden is billed as an all-year-round garden and as such we visited in Spring. There was a lovely atmosphere and lots to see, but we couldn’t help feeling that the garden will undoubtedly look better in the summer months.

Don’t miss the bird hide which is in full view of lots of well-stocked bird feeders, so you really are up-close and personal with the many varieties of birds. We also liked the area which demonstrates how your car and your front garden can co-exist happily, however little room you have.

One other frustration, there is no indoor restaurant here apart from a branch of the well known Betty’s tea rooms. This is great if you want to have top-quality lunches and cakes, but not so great if you just want to nip in for a coffee or a snack without joining a huge queue. If the weather is good there is an outdoor cafe in the grounds however.

RHS Harlow Carr is open March to October from 9.30am to 6pm and November to February from 9.30am to 4pm. Adult admission is £11 (2017 prices)

LOCATION & CONTACT

Address: RHS Harlow Carr, Crag Lane, Harrogate, Yorkshire HG3 1QB
Tel: +44 1423 565418

MORE ON RHS HARLOW CARR

RHS Harlow Carr – Official website
RHS Harlow Carr – Wikipedia
Harrogate Hotels – We recommend Hotels.com with their lowest price guarantee
Top Gardening Books – Amazon.co.uk

Car Park

Pay Machines

1. Park and remember your registration

2. Shop and enjoy the Water Gardens

3. When ready to leave, enter your registration at the pay station* and pay for your parking – all payment methods now accepted!

Tariffs will remain the same. Spend £5.00 or more in Asda or Matalan and claim a refund on your first 2 hours parking. They will give you a ticket which you can scan at the pay machine to deduct 2 hours from your parking fee.

*Pay Machines are located in ASDA foyer lower car park, outside ASDA on upper car park, and outside Matalan!

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

We understand that a new parking system will take a bit of getting used to, so we have compiled some frequently asked questions to help:

Q. What happens if I do not pay at all or have forgotten to pay?

A. If you do not pay, the parking management company could send you a penalty charge of up to £70. We do offer the option to pay for your parking online if you have forgotten to pay. You can do this by visiting www.parkonomy.com within 24 hours of your visit, however you will not be able to use any parking vouchers from ASDA or Matalan.

Q. Do I need the bay number?

A. No. The bay numbers are no longer required, you just need your vehicle registration number.

Q. How does the system know how much to charge me?

A. The cameras at the car park entrance read your vehicle registration when you enter. When you are ready to leave and input your registration into the pay station the system calculates how long you have stayed and charges you accordingly.

Q. Do I need to pay to pick someone up / drop someone off?

A. The system has a 15 minute grace period and if you stay less than that time you do not need to pay.

Q. Do I still get a discount if I shop in Asda or Matalan?

A. Yes. If you spend over £5.00 in these shops, the staff there will give you a voucher which can be redeemed at the pay station when you are leaving. Please note, if you are paying for your parking online after your visit, you will not be able to use your concession.

Q. What can I do if I have a problem?

A. We have a number of customer service staff dedicated to the car park and at all of the pay stations that are there to help you. If you cannot find anyone, please give us a call on 01279 453554 and we will come to you.

Q. When the car park is very busy I have had to drive around to try and find a space and then just leave. I don’t know how long I have been trying to find a space, do I need to pay?

A. In these peak periods the grace period is extended to accommodate these exact situations. No fee will be due under these circumstances and if you have any concerns over this please contact us on [email protected] and we would be happy to help.

Harlow Parking

Rent a Harlow Parking Space

Harlow is located in Essex and it is a former Mark One New Town that has an Old Harlow section that is a Conservation Area thanks to its buildings. Harlow is part of the outer London commuter belt and as a result Harlow Mill and Harlow Town railway stations provide frequent services to the capital. The town centre has undergone redevelopment in recent years to improve the facilities and bring more retailers to the area.

Via YourParkingSpace you are able to reserve parking in Harlow, including car parking for a few hours, safe overnight car parking, or a place to park for a few months. Via pre-booking you guarantee yourself a spot to park & also save a significant amount of cash compared to local car parks.

If you own a spare driveway, secure off-street space, or secure lock-up in Harlow then you could earn an extra income by obtaining a rental. Car parking spots throughout Harlow are in demand, whether it’s daily parking for one-off visitors to Harlow or commuters requiring contract parking.

Planning Your Journey

By Car

Car parking is available for patients and visitors’, however we do recommend that you leave plenty of time to plan your journey as the car park is in great demand.

Car parking changes

We have changed our patient and visitor car parking system to ensure your car parking experience is as easy as possible. We have extended the free parking period to 20 minutes. This means that you can pick up and drop off your friends and relatives within this time, free of charge.

A benefit of the new camera controlled car parking system is that you can pay at the payment machine on site or alternatively, you can pay up to 24 hours after your stay. To pay after your visit, you can download the paybyphone app, visit www.paybyphone.co.uk or call 0330 400 7275.
As part of the system change, we have updated and extended our patient and visitor car parking tariffs to meet your needs. This includes a longer, more cost-effective slot for the ‘up to four hours’ tariff, which reflects the length of stay of the majority of our patients and visitors.

The new tariffs for patients/visitors will be as follows:

Parking time

Charge

Up to 20 minutes

Free

Up to 4 hours

£2.90

Up to 6 hours

£4

Up to 24 hours

£6

We have introduced car parking charges for blue badge holders, which is in line with national guidelines and the changes implemented at a number of other trusts around the country. Blue badge holders can claim reduced rate or free parking if eligible for the concessions detailed below. We provide a large number of bays for blue badge holders, which are positioned close to entrances.

Reduced rate and free parking available

Free parking is available for:

  • patients or relatives if they are regularly attending the William’s Day Unit, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Gibberd Ward or Labour Ward
  • people who are eligible via the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS). To qualify for help with travel costs under the HTCS, you must meet three conditions:

o At the time of your appointment, you or your partner (including civil partners) must receive qualifying benefits or allowances, or meet the eligibility criteria for the NHS Low Income Scheme.

o You must have a referral from a healthcare professional to the hospital for further NHS treatment or tests

o Your appointment must be on a separate visit to when the referral was made. This applies whether your treatment is provided at a different location (hospital or clinic) or on the same premises as where your GP or another health professional issued the referral

Reduced parking rates are available for:

Patients or relatives if they are visiting the hospital on a regular basis. Please ask a member of ward staff if you are eligible for a concessionary parking permit and they will be able to complete the application form with you and return it to our security office.

How your information is used

When you use our “ParkingEye” carpark your information will be collected and processed by ParkingEye Ltd, trading as Car Parking Partnership (CPP). Images of vehicles and VRMs are collected via ANPR cameras and/or attendants on-site. Where in operation VRM data may also be collected and processed via the payment and/or terminals systems. You can read the full terms and conditions here.

By registering for a PayByPhone account, your information will be collected and processed by PayByPhone, owned by Volkswagen Financial Services AG. For more information about the use of your information, including who your information may be shared with then please visit https://www.parkgood2go.com/Pages/Privacy

By Bus

Please see below services and route numbers that provide a service to Princess Alexandra Hospital:

Harlow Bus Station to Princess Alexandra Hospital
Circular service via Little Parndon

By Train

The hospital has frequent public transport links to the mainline rail station and regular rail services which run to London Liverpool Street. Services are provided by Greater Anglia train services.

Situated behind a private gateway in the scenic North Yorkshire village of Beckwithshaw, neighbouring the renowned RHS Harlow Carr Garden and just two miles from Harrogate, this family run luxury Caravan Park is surrounded on every side by nature and wildlife making it the perfect setting for your luxury holiday lodge or static caravan.

If you’re someone who likes to explore, the magnificent Yorkshire Dales within easy reach. Harewood House is just around the corner and Ripley Castle, Bolton Abbey, Fountains Abbey, Studley Royal Deer Park and Brimham Rocks just a short drive away. The surrounding market towns of Harrogate, Ripon, Otley and Knaresborough offer the chance to pick up a few bargains and for the energetic amongst you, the Tour De France cycle route is yours to discover. And of course don’t forget to keep an eye out for horse racing events at Wetherby, Ripon and York, too.

If you’re a keen golfer, there’s plenty of opportunity to improve your handicap with three spectacular courses – Oakdale, Pannal and Rudding – nearby. Just a couple of minutes’ walk down the road, you’ll find The Pine Marten and Smiths Arms pubs, both serving a range of beers, real ales and delicious home-cooked food.

The Cardale Estate is open 11 months of the year from March to January, which makes it the perfect choice for holidaymakers looking for a Caravan Park near Harrogate rather than people looking for a residential site. Caravan pitches are currently available – simply contact us for availability.

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