Stevenage mixes it up the Grimsey way

Estates Gazette – Stevenage mixes it up the Grimsey Way
Sharon Taylor
18 October 2019

If you listen to external commentators, Stevenage hasn’t always enjoyed the most positive reputation. However, those inside the town sometimes find that surprising. After all, we’re home to major, international, sector-leading businesses, Green Flag-listed parks, scientific innovation and much more. In truth, negativity about Stevenage is largely unfair and misplaced.

But it would be remiss to ignore that some areas of our town need a little bit of love. Stevenage was the UK’s first new town, built more or less all at once, with the result that everything has aged at the same time, leaving the central spaces requiring investment. The masterplan for Stevenage meant that the town centre was designed as a traditional 9 to 5 shopping precinct, with limited homes, restaurants and bars within the area itself. That is now seen as an outdated approach.

As a progressive council we are looking to the future. In conjunction with partners including Mace, Reef Estates, the Local Enterprise Partnership, Herts County Council and more, we have launched a 20-year, £1bn regeneration programme designed to transform the town’s central spaces and reimagine what it can offer to residents and visitors both now and in the future.

There is an interesting synergy between the vision for Stevenage and the findings from the 2015 Grimsey Review, and we aim to make Stevenage a place where people want to live, work, play and relax.

As we all now know, Grimsey’s study outlined that retail-only town centres are a thing of the past. Nationally over 150,000 retail jobs were lost in 2018, and a further 164,000 are expected to go this year.

This isn’t solely a Stevenage issue, but as the UK’s first pedestrianised town centre, this is a significant concern for us. Any visitors to Stevenage will know that its central spaces are dominated by retail provision. In our town the main assets are segmented and often require additional transportation to move from site to site. The majority of leisure uses are found in the retail park adjacent to the railway station which leaves the town centre empty after 5pm.

Grimsey highlighted that towns must instead look to mixed-use regeneration in order to drive footfall, further investment and, ultimately, to survive. Following these principles has meant we are moving away from a strictly retail model and are working with Mace and Reef, among others, to introduce new food and beverage, residential, leisure and commercial facilities into our central spaces.

We’re keeping the key components of our town, while bringing in new opportunities and facilities, with developments also aligned to our new cultural strategy. While development is only just under way, we’ve already had interest from a diverse range of brands looking to move into an area set for the largest regeneration in the East of England, and that’s just for the spaces that are already available.

Another key aspect of the review, particularly in the Mace-led SG1 scheme, is the focus on placemaking.

While Stevenage in its current form does provide a range of public spaces, our offer is inefficient and needs improvement. Currently, public services are split across six separate buildings, which creates six sets of heating, electric and water bills as well as various other costs. SG1 will deliver a solution by creating a shared public and voluntary services hub that will include charities, a library, job centre, café, council offices and more under one roof in order to lower costs and create flexible public spaces that contribute to a more vibrant look and feel in the area.

This part of our vision has been supported by the country-wide programme ‘One Public Estate’, and underpins the way in which the public sector is moving.

Stevenage is undergoing major change. No other town is launching such a significant and ambitious regeneration programme, but then again no town is quite like Stevenage. We want our town to have the reputation it deserves. We want to be known for our incredible green spaces and world-class employers. The regeneration of the town centre will be a challenging and long-term process but, as Grimsey said, “if it was that simple then people would have done it already”.

Sharon Taylor is leader of Stevenage Borough Council

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Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst chosen as Opportunity Zone

Local Enterprise Partnership – Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst chosen as Life Sciences Opportunity Zone
8 October 2019

Nadhim Zahawi MP has announced that Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) has been successful in its application to become a Life Sciences Opportunity Zone.

The assessment panel consisted of senior industry life science experts and senior government officials. In a letter to Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst Chief Executive Officer Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, the Minister stated: “l am delighted to tell you that your application has been successful. The panel were impressed by your plans to grow what is already a successful biomedical campus.”

The Minister made the formal announcement at Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Annual Conference on Monday 7th October, addressing 200 delegates. The audience heard how GlaxoSmithKline, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and SBC have built a world-class cluster in advanced therapies on the Campus that is delivering a positive impact on UK plc and global healthcare.

With both SBC and the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult’s first large scale manufacturing centre on the Campus, companies can benefit from close proximity to research, development and manufacturing. This unique co-location has been a key driver of growth in this revolutionary therapy area. Occupiers of the SBC Campus have raised almost £1bn of investment, of which over 60% has been invested into cell and gene therapy companies.

Dr Sally Ann Forsyth, Chief Executive Officer at Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, commented: “We are delighted to receive Life Sciences Opportunity Zone designation for the Stevenage Advanced Therapeutics Campus. I would like to thank our supporting partners in the successful bid, namely GlaxoSmithKline, Cell & Gene Therapy Catapult, LifeArc, Kadans Science Partner, University of Hertfordshire, Royal Veterinary College and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. I look forward to working together to accelerate the growth of this globally recognised cluster for advanced therapeutics.”

Paul Witcombe, Head of Enterprise and Innovation, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst has made a huge contribution to the rapid clustering of world-class corporate and academic research excellence on the GSK Campus at Stevenage. By awarding it opportunity zone status, SBC can strengthen the UK’s sectorial advantage and Hertfordshire’s position within the Oxford-London-Cambridge golden research triangle.”

Dr Stephen Ward, Chief Manufacturing Officer, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, stated: “The global uniqueness of having research, development and manufacturing closely connected within the campus and its surrounding geography is a key driver for growth and needs to be capitalised upon to ensure the economic and health benefits can be fully realised for the UK.”

Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst is one of six Life Sciences Opportunity Zones that will connect together to promote the sector on an international stage.

In the second Life Sciences Sector Deal, the government committed to take action to help areas with clear life sciences strengths to grow. Life Sciences Opportunity Zones (LSOZ) are a key part of this and will promote life science parks to potential investors. They highlight the opportunities of the area, such as vacant lab space, land to build new facilities, or links with higher education, amongst others. This helps to deliver the recommendation of the Life Sciences Industrial Strategy for government to support the growth of life sciences clusters.

In its emerging Local Industrial Strategy, Hertfordshire LEP recognises the importance of this sector to the local and UK economy. Over the past decade, it states, the county has excelled in growing a cell and gene cluster which is of global significance. “This must flourish with synergistic links to London and Cambridge…there is a particular concentration on which to build along a “science corridor” along the A1(M) – from Hatfield through Stevenage towards the north Hertfordshire towns.”

https://www.hertfordshirelep.com/news-events/news/business-and-industry-minister-announces-stevenage-bioscience-catalyst-as-one-of-six-new-life-sciences-opportunity-zones-in-uk/

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Stevenage regeneration set for £25m windfall

The Comet – Stevenage regeneration set for £25m windfall
Georgia Barrow
12 September 2019

Stevenage has been selected as one of 100 town centres to receive government funding to help develop regeneration plans – and the windfall could be up to £25 million.

The town centre regeneration is already under way, and has now been guaranteed a slice of the government’s £3.6 billion Towns Fund which is designed to support towns to “build prosperous futures”.

Leader of the council Sharon Taylor said: “The government’s move to include Stevenage in its new Towns Fund is a step in the right direction.

“We have been making great progress with the regeneration of Stevenage town centre, with investment into public realm, kickstarting the regeneration of Queensway, and commencing a major redevelopment partnership with Mace.

“We have worked closely with local partners and businesses to drive the regeneration of the town and will continue to work together to make this revitalisation of the town a success.

“We are proud that our work has been recognised and will encourage government to work at pace to support our regeneration plans.”

Selected town centres include places with industrial and economic heritage, but may not have always benefitted from economic growth in the same way as more prosperous areas.

Communities, businesses and local leaders will now join forces to draw up ambitious plans to transform their town’s economic growth prospects with a focus on improved transport, broadband connectivity, skills and culture.

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick said: “Ensuring that prosperity and opportunities are available to everyone in this country, not just those in London or our biggest cities, is at the heart of the mission of this government.

“We want to level-up our great towns, raising living standards and ensuring they can thrive with transformative investment in transport, technology, skills and culture.
”I will now work with local people from the 100 communities announced to agree proposals to invest up to £25 million in each place.

“I hope these deals will provide the investment and the impetus for long-term renewal ensuring each town can look to the future with a new optimism.”

https://www.thecomet.net/news/stevenage-town-fund-regeneration-1-6262773

Find out more about our plans for regeneration

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our brand new visitor centre in Stevenage Town Square.

Visitor Centre opening

The centre will be open Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm and will provide residents and visitors with an opportunity to learn more about our town’s regeneration programme and our plans for the future as well as gaining more insight about Stevenage’s heritage.

Visitors will have the opportunity to experience a Virtual Reality, 3D fly through video of the regeneration schemes, as well as exclusive video content from some key Stevenage stakeholders. Younger visitors will also have the chance to build their town of the future on our scale LEGO diorama of the Town Centre and to find out more information about all of the regeneration schemes.

If you’re interested in seeing the visitor centre head down today and find out about the future of our town – alternatively, take a look around the rest of the website or take a look at our social media channels to learn more.

The regeneration  currently underway in Stevenage is a 20-year, £1bn programme designed to transform the town centre and what it offers to residents and visitors, both now and in the future. Along with our development partners, including Mace, the firm behind The Shard, London Eye and the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Reef Estates, we are transforming the central areas of Stevenage, introducing new residential, retail, commercial and leisure facilities. Mace’s SG1 scheme is the single largest programme but the town is also set to benefit from Reef’s £50m transformation of Queensway North, that is currently underway, and from the relocation and upgrade of the bus interchange, amongst many others. Work will begin on the Town Square in late 2020 while many schemes such as the redevelopment of Market Place, along with the Brickdale House and Skyline schemes, have already been completed.

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Public consultation for £1bn revamp announced

The Comet – SG1 Public Consultation for £1bn revamp announced
Jacob Thorburn
10 July 2019

It’s almost time to have your say on the £1 billion plans to revamp Stevenage’s town centre, as the SG1 public consultation period launches next week.

This consultation for the SG1 plans is the latest part of Stevenage Borough Council’s 20-year regeneration proposal.

The borough council first announced the current 14.5-acre regeneration plans last year.

If approved, residents can expect to see new homes, shops, offices, leisure facilities and public services introduced to SG1 and the surrounding area.

The regeneration will be delivered in phases over the next ten years – with the former police station on Southgate and parking close to Westgate Shopping Centre all earmarked for new development plots.

Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, is encouraging as many people as possible to attend the three-day consultation and have their say.

She said: “We are very excited about the SG1 public consultation. SG1 is a major part of our wider regeneration programme and we have been very impressed by the plans for the town centre.

“We hope our residents will be similarly impressed when they see the designs at the event later this month.”

Mace Group Ltd, who worked on The Shard in London, has been selected as the council’s partner for this regeneration project.

Kevin Cowin, development director at Mace, says the company is committed to making Stevenage fit for both today and the future.

He said: “SG1 delivers the council’s vision for the town centre. The places we intend to create will be socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.”

This is the largest piece of town centre regeneration in eastern England and a project that the town merits given its importance.

It introduces high quality design that will be truly transformative: new buildings and well-connected landscaped public spaces.”

Mace’s consultation will be held at the former Subway unit in the Plaza in Stevenage Town Centre.

You can attend the event between 10am and 4pm from Friday to Sunday, July 19 to 21.

Comments can also be left online at http://sg1consult.info from now until the end of September.

Find out more about our plans for regeneration 

Stevenage is getting Even Better

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our new brand – Stevenage Even Better – a platform to communicate all the planned changes for our town to our residents and visitors.

This website will act as a one stop shop for all regeneration news and will be regularly updated with the latest news about the various schemes designed to benefit our town. You can find out about Mace’s SG1 scheme, Reef’s £50m transformation of Queensway North and the numerous other regeneration programmes that are already completed, currently underway or just around the corner.

In other exciting news, our Visitor Centre also opens today in our Town Square. Visitors can check out a full virtual 3D fly through our future town while younger guests can also create their town of the future out of Lego and build it on our replica of Stevenage Town Centre. You can also see exclusive videos and speak directly to our regeneration team about how the 20-year programme can benefit you.

Please take a while to look around the website and our new Twitter and Instagram pages (@StevenageBetter) and let us know what you think of our plans to make Stevenage Even Better

The regeneration currently underway in Stevenage is a 20-year, £1bn programme designed to transform the town centre and what it offers to residents and visitors, both now and in the future. Along with our development partners, including Mace, the firm behind The Shard, London Eye and the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and Reef Estates, we are transforming the central areas of Stevenage, introducing new residential, retail, commercial and leisure facilities. Mace’s SG1 scheme is the single largest programme but the town is also set to benefit from Reef’s £50m transformation of Queensway North, that is currently underway, and from the relocation and upgrade of the bus interchange, amongst many others. Work will begin on the Town Square in late 2020 while many schemes such as the redevelopment of Market Place, along with the Brickdale House and Skyline schemes, have already been completed.

Follow us on Twitter

Check us out on Instagram

Find out more about our plans for regeneration