Hertfordshire is powering the UK’s future

Hertfordshire LEP together with the University of Hertfordshire supports the University Alliance’s Powering the UK’s Future campaign. This will further amplify the role higher education plays by working hand in hand with other organisations to drive future prospects and prosperity.

“Here in Hertfordshire we have solid foundations for growth with the University of Hertfordshire, four high-performing FE colleges and a strong legacy of partnership working to deliver skills and employment opportunities. Together we are united by one common purpose: to unlock potential and widen access for all, encouraging social mobility and demonstrating that all aspects of the skills agenda, i.e. apprenticeships and traineeships are valued options. Our ‘ground-up’ approach, rooted in local knowledge and tied to our communities, will be the bedrock of our national recovery. Hertfordshire LEP together with the University of Hertfordshire supports the University Alliance’s Powering the UK’s future campaign. This will further amplify the role higher education plays by working hand in hand with other organisations to drive future prospects and prosperity.

Powering businesses and growth

“Skills are the common currency that powers our economy and are a dynamic driver of enterprise, investment and new industry. This link between education and industry is vital to ensure that we are creating the right skills for our key sectors and championing innovation and entrepreneurship. Hertfordshire Growth Hub, the county’s flagship business support provider, is powered by Hertfordshire LEP and part delivered by the University of Hertfordshire.

“Over the past year, the role of Growth Hubs has been strengthened nationally to meet the huge increased need for business support during COVID-19. Hertfordshire LEP in partnership with the University of Hertfordshire and Hertfordshire Growth Hub devised the Volunteer Business Support Scheme, a free and confidential 1-2-1 mentoring programme. The scheme launched in June 2020 and through its network of experienced mentors it has supported more than 190 businesses, providing over 600 hours of 1-2-1 support. Due to its success and excellent feedback, it has now been extended until November. The national Peer Networks Programme, delivered locally by Hertfordshire Growth Hub consortium partner, the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, gives SMEs an opportunity to network with fellow businesses, collaborate to find solutions to common issues, and access expert business advice and support.

“In December, the University of Hertfordshire opened its new £12m Enterprise Hub at its de Havilland campus in Hatfield, with a £2.5m Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire LEP. The Hub will significantly enhance and expand existing support available to businesses in the region by providing flexible business incubation, office space, teaching and social areas under one roof, to facilitate greater collaboration between students, academics and the business community.

Powering people and jobs

“A new report from The Prince’s Trust and the Learning and Work Institute, supported by HSBC UK, warns that youth unemployment will remain high after other areas of the economy begin to recover, costing the UK economy almost £7 billion next year.

“Our Hertfordshire Supports Apprenticeships campaign, supported by a broad coalition of HE, FE, apprenticeship providers, schools, employers and other stakeholders, sends out a very clear message that apprenticeships are valued and viable career path options. In so doing it will help to:

  • Deliver a diverse resident workforce fit for the future;
  • Raise the skills and productivity levels of those already in work;
  • Showcase the resilience of apprentices and employers during COVID-19.

“Here in Hertfordshire we are very fortunate to have the Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal (HOP), masterminded by the Hertfordshire LEP’s Skills and Employment Board, which connects employers with future skills pipelines. Residents can access the information they need to make informed decisions on career path options including Further Education, Higher Education, professional qualifications, work experience and job opportunities; employers can reach and recruit their future talent and upskill and provide progression opportunities for existing staff. Up and down the country, every LEP Board has HE and FE representation and our Careers and Enterprise Company Enterprise Adviser Network convenes local expertise to align with schools and colleges to help shape courses, ensuring the right skills for the right jobs.

Powering communities

“Universities also have a critical role to play in the future of places and delivering the Government’s Plan for Growth. Our plans for levelling up opportunities in Stevenage (see Stevenage Development Board plans here) are greatly enhanced by the University of Hertfordshire’s presence and our four FE colleges. Following our successful bid, Stevenage was awarded £37.5m from the Government’s Towns Fund, a £3.6 billion fund used to help deliver the government’s plan to level up our regions by using different indicators of need and deprivation. This funding will help to enhance STEM skills facilities with the support of North Herts College and the University of Hertfordshire, unlocking future growth in our world-leading key sector industries, such as life sciences and advanced manufacturing, and providing real, high-value opportunities for local people.

“Our combined efforts to deliver a ‘workforce for tomorrow’ (Planning for the Future: Hertfordshire Local Skills Report, 2021) across Hertfordshire and our neighbouring counties will be greatly enhanced by the University Alliance’s policies to power the UK’s future. This campaign will create a broader understanding of the nation’s skills needs with a greater focus on excellent delivery to power a national economic, social and cultural recovery from COVID-19. It will present real benefits and opportunities to students and local employers and speak with ‘one voice’ to Government. We fully support and encourage this initiative to help power the UK and Hertfordshire’s future.”

 

Plans agreed for regeneration of key Matalan site

On 2nd March The Guinness Partnership, one of England’s largest housing associations received the overwhelming support of Stevenage Borough Council’s Planning and Development Committee for the regeneration of the Matalan site, Danesgate – a key site within Stevenage Town Centre.

The site has long been identified by Stevenage Borough Council as suitable for redevelopment.  It currently includes a retail store and associated car parking, as well as the adjacent car parking to the rear of the store and fronting Lytton Way.

In line with the outline planning permission agreed a number of years ago, 526 one and two-bedroomed apartments will be provided, along with 779 sq. m of flexible commercial space, which will be located at ground floor level.

The design, by Stirling Prize winning architects Maccreanor Lavington, was comprehensively reviewed and supported by the independent Design Council who stated that, ‘It is our view that this proposal would be an asset to Stevenage town centre’.

Jon Milburn, Group Development Director at Guinness said, “We are very pleased to receive the support of Stevenage Borough Council for this site which is a very important and integral part of the wider revitalisation of Stevenage Town Centre. Due to the site’s prominence and role in the Council’s ambitions for a new and vibrant heart to the town, we have placed a very high emphasis on achieving excellence in design. These proposals will transform an under-utilised brownfield site with excellent links to the town centre, leisure facilities and public transport including the brand-new bus interchange and the improved railway station.”

Jon Milburn, concluded, “We heard from councillors that they are very keen to see construction commence given the Council’s long-standing aspiration for the regeneration of the site. We will now take the necessary steps to deliver these exciting plans and expect construction to start in early 2022, creating an estimated 188 jobs. In line with our 130-year history of providing social homes, we will also assess our ability to increase the number of affordable homes above and beyond that which had been agreed in the outline planning permission prior to our involvement.”

£37.5m investment is ‘once in a generation’ opportunity

March 3
The Comet
Jacob Thorburn

 

More than £37 million worth of investment will be coming to help realise “radical and innovative” change in Stevenage, after the town successfully bid for its share of central government grant funds.

Stevenage Development Board, set up in 2020 to organise government funding through the MyTown initiative, has confirmed it has been awarded tens of millions in grant funding from central government.

After submitting a comprehensive bid and passing through a detailed government review, Adrian Hawkins OBE, chair of Stevenage Development Board, announced the town had been awarded £37.5 million.

The successful bid aimed to boost the growth of businesses in Stevenage which have a national and international base. The heritage of the UK’s inaugural new town was also a key focus and it will now offer the chance to reflect on and reinterpret this for future generations.

Mr Hawkins said: “Our vision was ambitious, our plan clearly deliverable, and the message was simple: Investing this money in the future of Stevenage is an investment in the future of our country, of our children, and will unleash more than £600m of private investment to supercharge UK businesses, as we once again unify in a time of great national need and set a new blueprint for innovation.

“I am delighted to announce this, not least because Stevenage is the town where I grew up in a council house, the town which gave me the chance to build my own business and a place which I hold so dear.

“This will now see not just an investment in buildings and infrastructure, but an investment in the people, to improve their lives and to boost their skills to enable them to engage with local employers and local employment.

“It is urgent that we now consider how we accommodate, expand and deliver skills to our important science-based industries in the Town and ensure that they have the environment to develop, expand and employ locally. The businesses and sectors located in Stevenage are competing on a global level, and their success is intrinsically linked to our national economy – our residents simply cannot and will not be left behind.”

Projects which have been submitted relate to a number of key areas including connectivity, arts and culture, regeneration and land use and skills and enterprise.

The successful bid aimed to boost the growth of businesses in Stevenage which have a national and international base. Heritage of the first New Town was also a key focus and it will now offer the chance to reflect on and reinterpret this for future generations

Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, commented: “We have an unprecedented opportunity, a once in a generation moment to re-vitalise the town and provide outstanding opportunities for local people and businesses.

“Proposals that will create jobs, a thriving heart of the town, support the growth of world class businesses and boost the national economy. A unique chance to accelerate the regeneration of the town centre, providing vibrancy and places for people to enjoy.

“The plan will build resilience for Stevenage in the face of the threats presented by COVID-19 and recession, by providing creative employment and upskilling for local people.

“We have a united, broad and strong partnership, pride in our heritage, determination to make regeneration happen, and the passion to deliver a pioneering future.”

Mark Bretton, chair of Hertfordshire LEP and the LEP Network, commented: “As the UK’s first new town, Stevenage holds the legacy of Hertfordshire’s pioneering spirit.

“There has never before been such a strong collective determination to build on this proud heritage and rejuvenate the town for the 21st century.”

David Williams, leader at Hertfordshire County Council and chair of Hertfordshire Growth Board, added: “This Town Deal Investment Plan will accelerate Stevenage’s game changing regeneration strategy.

“Stevenage’s clear sighted ambition to evolve from pioneer post war new town to a 21st century national hub for science, technology and advanced manufacturing excellence will be delivered faster and with greater certainty.

“Hertfordshire County Council shares the ambition for Stevenage to exceed its potential and has supported this endeavour as an active partner from the start.”

Read the story in full here – https://www.thecomet.net/news/business/stevenage-awarded-millions-in-regeneration-planning-investment-fund-7804158

You can see the Executive Summary of the Town Investment Plan here

SG1 Holding Direction Lifted

The Comet
Georgia Barrow

 

The development – which is the single largest within the 20-year, £1bn regeneration programme – is now under way in the town, has received public support and has been consulted on widely by its developers.

SG1 will deliver a range of new residential, commercial, leisure and retail facilities and will cover 14.5 acres of the town centre.

It will also bring 11 new buildings and include a new park in the heart of Stevenage along with a new Garden Square and Public Services Hub.

Mace expects the development to provide an additional £38.6m in new spending power per annum from the residents of the 1,800 new homes it will deliver.

It will also create over 1,000 jobs, including 36 new construction apprenticeships that can boost the skills of local residents.

Council leader Sharon Taylor said: “We are delighted that the Secretary of State has given the green light to this vital regeneration project.

“With COVID-19 bringing so many challenges to the country and to Stevenage, the regeneration of the town centre is critical to our recovery efforts.

“This project will create vital local jobs and opportunities, new public areas and green spaces, improved health and community facilities, new homes and places for people to enjoy.

“Our regeneration programme is well under way, with the finishing touches being put to the Town Square, the new bus station being built and the regeneration of part of Queensway also making great progress.

“These investments are needed now more than ever, so that we can create a vibrant town centre and hope for a brighter future.”

SG1 joins ongoing regeneration projects which form part of the wider regeneration plans for Stevenage, including the Town Square and Town Square North Block, Queensway North and the new bus interchange, all currently under construction.

Kevin Cowin, development director at Mace, said: “We’re delighted by the news that Stevenage Borough Council can now proceed to issue planning permission based on their decision last October to support the SG1 proposals.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the council to bring forward this exciting and ambitious project which will transform the town centre and create social and economic opportunities for the local community.’

“We will now focus on the phased delivery of the revitalisation at the heart of the town, which will be crucial for Stevenage as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope to start work later this year and will keep everybody up-to-date with our progress.”

A holding direction can restrict the relevant Local Planning Authority from granting planning permission essentially until the Secretary of State has had time to make a final decision on whether to call it in.

Further information about the regeneration programme is available at www.Stevenage-Even-Better.com.

Market Place Highly Commended in 2020 Street Design Awards

The transformation of the public spaces in Market Place, one of the original Stevenage Town Centre streets and one of the first to undergo regeneration, has been Highly Commended by judges at the 2020 Street Design Awards.

The scheme was completed in late-2018 and introduced a range of new universal play equipment and street furniture, bringing a sense of fun and identity to an area in need of renewal. The scheme has boosted footfall and increased activity, receiving positive feedback from businesses based there.  It was one of the first schemes delivered as part of the wider £1bn regeneration of the town centre.

The Awards are run by LocalGov, the UK’s largest dedicated government news website and celebrate innovation and best practice in street design across the country. Entries were submitted in February, before the pandemic, and Market Place was Highly Commended in the ‘Children’s Play’ category, being narrowly beaten by Islington LBC.

Cllr John Gardner, Executive Portfolio Holder for Regeneration and Environment, commented on the accolade.

“We are delighted to have been Highly Commended in one of the UK’s leading Awards of its type. Prior to the regeneration scheme, Market Place was starting to become unattractive, however the transformation – with relatively low levels of investment – has been incredible and brought life back to the street, reflecting the quality of local businesses. We know from retailers and traders based here that footfall has increased and it’s rare to see the street unoccupied such is the popularity of the play equipment.  The accolade is testament to the hard work, innovation and creativity of our internal teams and regeneration partners.”

Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council, commented.

“Market Place was one of the first areas we looked to transform in our 20-year, £1bn programme and the results have been outstanding. We always felt it was important to invest in our public spaces up-front as a catalyst for the larger scheme, and its impact has been clear to see and its success represents a strong platform to launch our other programmes from. We now have four major schemes underway in the town, with another to launch next year, and if the results are anything like we have seen with Market Place Stevenage is really set to benefit. After a very tough year for everyone this is some positive news to round off 2020.”

You can see a full list of winners here – http://streetdesign.localgov.co.uk/

 

Generation Stevenage

On 1 December 2020, Generation Stevenage brought together Stevenage’s world-class employers to showcase the exciting career opportunities available to young people locally across science, technology, engineering, maths and healthcare.

Aimed at 15-18 year olds, and their parents/carers, Generation Stevenage featured talks from MBDA, GSK, Airbus, NHS, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst – with opening addresses from Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, and Adrian Hawkins, Chair of the Stevenage Development Board.

Generation Stevenage is a partnership venture between Hertfordshire Opportunities Portal (HOP), Careers and Enterprise Company, Stevenage Development Board and co-organised by educational charity Stempoint East. It is jointly funded by Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Stevenage Borough Council.

You can see the event in full below:

 

The First New Town – An Exciting Future

Innovation Corridor
Adrian Hawkins
22 october 2020

When times are at their most difficult it can often be hard to look ahead and see the positives which are there for us all. It is important though that we do seize the opportunities that present themselves and now is just such a point in time, for Stevenage.

As the independent Chairman of the Stevenage Development Board, I am so proud of the transition which the first New Town is now making, as it becomes such a progressive place to live and work.

The recent classification by the Department of International Trade of Stevenage as a High Potential Opportunity zone (HPO) underlines just how much progress the town has made in such a short space of time – and just what an exciting future it has.

The HPO classification was made in recognition of Stevenage’s thriving cell and gene therapy cluster, and it underlines what a centre of innovation the town has become.

And while of course we must recognise that Covid-19 is having a major impact on our present, towns such as Stevenage are proving to be resilient to this and are clearly going to be the places of the future, where shrewd investment, both Public and Private, will help to create high quality local jobs and truly great lifetime opportunities with the support of an ever growing Business sector in the Town.

Our Towns Fund bid is nearing completion and will shortly be submitted to Government for due consideration. It will create the opportunity for the long- term development of the Town as the ideal environment for our innovative businesses and our very capable residents to continue to develop.

SG1 granted approval by Planning Committee

The single largest scheme in the regeneration of Stevenage Town Centre has received approval from Stevenage Borough Council’s Planning and Development Committee this evening.

Stevenage Borough Council’s Development Partner Mace will bring forward SG1, a new development covering 14.5 acres of the town centre and introducing 11 new buildings including residential, leisure, community, commercial and retail facilities.

This landmark proposal will create a new heart for Stevenage, which will serve the needs of local people and businesses for decades to come.

Mace’s vision is to create a new and connected heart for Stevenage, delivering sustainable housing, community facilities and public spaces which will serve the needs of local people and businesses for decades to come. With a focus on inclusivity, environmental sustainability and wellbeing, SG1 will create attractive new streets, squares and public realm as well as improving pedestrian and cycle connections across the town. The first phase of SG1 includes the demolition of Swingate House on Danestrete and the former Police Station on Southgate.

Subject to the outcome of a supplementary review by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, construction will now be scheduled to begin in the coming months, joining ongoing regeneration projects which form part of the wider 20-year, £1bn regeneration plans for Stevenage. These include the Town Square & Town Square North Block, Queensway North and the new Bus Interchange, all currently under construction. An additional programme is also set to start on Lytton Way which will introduce bus priority lanes and improved accessibility to the railway station whilst also supporting the Council’s efforts to reach its ambitious climate change goals.

Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said.

 “This is a really fantastic moment for Stevenage and we’re delighted that such a major scheme has been granted planning permission. When we started this journey we aimed as high as possible and working with world-class firms like Mace will help us to achieve our goals and make the town an even better place for people to live, work, play and relax. Mace’s proposals are truly transformational and we can’t wait for work to begin. 2020 has been challenging for everyone, but hopefully this announcement, combined with the progress being made on our other ongoing developments, will give everyone cause for optimism.”

Kevin Cowin, Development Director at Mace, said:

‘We’re delighted to receive the [strong] support of the Council’s Planning and Development Committee and this marks the culmination of a huge amount of work by our team. We have developed an excellent partnership with the Council since we were selected in February 2018 to bring forward this exciting town centre regeneration. We’d like to thank the officers and elected members of Stevenage Borough Council for the proactive approach they have taken in pursuing the vision for their town and we will continue to work closely with the Council to transform the town centre, creating social and economic opportunities for the local community.’

‘This is the largest town centre regeneration plan in eastern England and a project that Stevenage deserves. We know from our extensive engagement and consultation with local people last year that residents and businesses are very eager to see SG1 become a reality. High streets and town centres face major challenges which have been amplified by the COVID-19 epidemic. SG1 is even more crucial now for the revitalisation of the heart of the town so that it can look forward to a better, brighter future.’

Cllr John Gardner, portfolio holder for Environment & Regeneration at Stevenage Borough Council, said,

“This is another major milestone in our ongoing 20-year, £1bn regeneration programme and marks a really significant moment for the town. We all know that the town has needed regeneration for some time and we are now delivering the real change that it needs. The plans for the SG1 scheme that Mace have brought forward will have an enormous impact on the town both now and in the future and are likely to encourage even further investment. We would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to everyone involved so far, this really is testament to the efforts of all who have contributed.”

Boost to parking as funding secured to deliver new car park

Stevenage Borough Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership have secured over £1m worth of funding through the Government’s Growth Deal 3 (GD3) programme to develop a new multi-story car park in the town centre and to facilitate vital enabling works to support regeneration plans.

Parking availability has been raised as a concern in the various consultations the council and its partners have held in recent years. The new facility will be based to the North of the Railway Station and will act as a sustainable transport hub including secure cycle storage and car parking, linking to the Railway Station and new Bus Interchange.

It will help to manage the future growth in demand for parking created by the ongoing 20-year, £1bn regeneration programme in the town centre and will provide additional spaces for both commuters and people living and working in Stevenage. The scheme will also help to cover the loss of existing surface car parks that are being redeveloped as part of the wider regeneration programme.

The development has been funded through the Growth Deal 3 programme put forward by the government which Stevenage Borough Council and the LEP have bid for. This is the second Growth Deal the council has successfully bid for in recent years, with funding from Growth Deal 1 being invested into a variety of public realm improvements such as the redevelopment of Market Place and the Town Square along with acquiring additional land in preparation for future regeneration programmes

Leader of Stevenage Borough Council, Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE, said.

We recognised the need for new facilities and have put together bids to secure funding opportunities meaning these developments, like our wider regeneration programme, come at no additional costs to residents. The sustainable hub will also benefit the greater number of people who are cycling or walking to the station or to the various employers based nearby. And, with more people living and working in the town centre in the future, we know there will be a need for additional parking. It may not be the most exciting of all our upcoming programmes, but it’s key to unlocking additional growth and investment in Stevenage.”

You can find out more about the ongoing regeneration programme at www.Stevenage-Even-Better.com

Works begin on new bus interchange in Stevenage Town Centre

The first phase of construction works has started on a new bus interchange in Stevenage Town Centre. The interchange, which will be located on the car park adjacent to Stevenage Leisure Centre, and alongside Lytton Way, will improve existing connectivity and transport links across Stevenage and is part of the wider 20-year, £1bn regeneration programme currently underway in the town.

The new interchange will provide a significant upgrade on the existing bus station and will include covered waiting facilities with extensive seating areas, toilets, café, live passenger information boards, and greatly improved accessibility features. The new location, combined with the changes being delivered through the SG1 scheme, will improve routes and connections between the railway station and the town centre. It will also enhance the connection between the existing cycle network and the bus and rail networks, providing integrated links between Stevenage’s transport hubs.

The first phase of construction includes utilities and enabling works. The main phase of construction will begin this autumn and existing bus services will continue to run as normal until the new interchange is completed. The development is likely to be completed and launched to the public in autumn 2021. The work has been funded by a £9.6m Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Cllr Sharon Taylor OBE, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council, commented on the launch of the new development.

“We’re very happy to see the launch of the new bus interchange development and it will mark another major step forward in the wider regeneration programme. This year has been exceptionally challenging, however we have made significant progress on our three live projects – the Town Square, Town Square North Block and Queensway North – which is testament to the strength of our partnerships and to the resilience of everyone we’re working with. The bus interchange development not only significantly improves transport links across the town and provides better and more secure facilities for bus users; it also facilitates the development of other projects, like SG1 taking place.

“This is a really exciting time for Stevenage and we’re optimistic that this development, combined with our others that are near completion – and the launch of the Town Investment Plan – will provide the boost that people need at the moment.”

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Luke Hall MP said:

“We want to level up the connectivity of our towns across the country, boosting local economies and unlocking opportunities for our communities. That is why we have invested £9.6m, through the Local Growth Fund, in the new bus interchange in Stevenage Town Centre. I am delighted that the residents of Stevenage will soon benefit from more efficient connections, integrated transport hubs and crucially, improved accessibility.”

Adam Wood, Head of Infrastructure & Regeneration at Hertfordshire LEP, said:

“The new bus interchange will replace existing tired infrastructure with a sleek and modern design and new public amenities to improve the user experience, in a new location that greatly enhances connectivity between the town’s transport hubs to encourage a shift towards the use of public transport. The interchange is a key part of the wider regeneration of Stevenage and we look forward to seeing the work take shape over the coming months.”

For further information on the bus interchange and the Stevenage Regeneration programme visit www.Stevenage-Even-Better.com and follow on @StevenageBetter on both Twitter and Instagram

You can also leave your views on how up to £25m of funding is invested in our town by visiting the MyTown portal at www.Stevenage-Even-Better.com/my-town