The Stevenage regeneration framework
With our £1billion regeneration plans, we are transforming Stevenage into a place where people can live, work and enjoy life to the fullest, through significant improvements to aspects of both urban life and rural escape. We have planned a number of schemes to regenerate Stevenage, which are set to be completed over a 20-year programme. The schemes are contained within the framework for Stevenage Central, produced for us by David Lock Associates.
The schemes consist of a mix of multi-million pound, residential-led, mixed-use developments that will breathe new life into the town centre, as well as significant transport and public realm improvements. The renewal will follow the same principles employed when building the 1946 New Town, adapted for a modern setting. Just as the former Development Corporation did, we will deliver high-quality housing fit for the demands of this day and age, with more green spaces and amenities on people’s doorsteps.
In post-war Britain, the people flocked to Stevenage to take advantage of job opportunities with easy access to the countryside. Whereas Stevenage’s pioneers would have moved to within a 30-minute cycle or walk from their work, now Stevenage gives commuters the enviable option of utilising excellent transport connections into Central London and Cambridge in the same amount of time. The additional housing and town improvements will put Stevenage back on the map for our population, as well as for anyone wanting to make the move out of London to homes where residents can get the best of both working in the city and living in the countryside.
We have already started to reinvigorate our high streets by renovating areas of the town centre, with added green spaces, dedicated seating areas, and children’s play equipment. A refreshed town centre, with added street lighting and a more inviting environs, also aims to reboot a once-thriving evening economy. These improvements, along with significant mixed-use retail, residential and public realm plans, will rejuvenate the town centre and make Stevenage the exciting destination it once was.
While the town will be getting a significant facelift over the next 20 years, one of the key principles of our regeneration scheme is to make sure that it is still recognisable, treasuring and protecting the historic landmarks and countryside that make Stevenage unique. To ensure this is the case, inspiration for many of the new buildings and developments draws on Stevenage’s rich culture and heritage, and we will be working to make sure that there will be no unsightly juxtaposition between the old and new.
Just as the initial planning of the 1946 New Town was faced with some considerable opposition, our regeneration will not be without its challenges either – but we are well equipped to tackle them head on.
There is no better example than the Local Plan, which was found to be sound by the government’s own inspector over a year ago, yet continues to be affected by a holding direction without any resolution. In the meantime, the council has continued to press ahead with the procurement of our development partner Mace, has supported the regeneration of Park Place, and has delivered a range of public realm improvements.
The wide mix of land ownerships has also been a significant challenge. Delivering wholesale regeneration on the scale needed to boost the town centre is difficult to deliver when land has been sub-divided and leases sold off. The council has worked over the past few years to consolidate land ownership, and it has been the vital partnership working together with Hertfordshire County Council, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, and the NHS which has helped to shape a deliverable proposition.
One of the major challenges facing the town – and high streets all over the country – is the changing face of retail. As more people opt to shop online and high street stores fold, Stevenage town centre needs to evolve and adapt to the public’s changing retail expectations.
To meet them we are changing the town centre to give a new type of retail and leisure experience; on top of significant improvements to existing retail units to provide modern frontages and suitably sized units, we are opening a number of new dining options, introducing state-of-the-art leisure facilities, providing flexible office space, and encouraging temporary uses while plans are advanced. This new look will give the public not only somewhere to shop, but also a place to relax, unwind, and socialise with friends, family or colleagues, any time of the week.
Our regeneration schemes
To reach our ambitious targets for regeneration, we have partnered with leading developers Mace and Reef Group, both of which have excellent experience and reputations for delivering regeneration programmes both in the UK and abroad.
Mace is an international developer and construction company that has helped to shape cities around the world. We have partnered with them for the SG1 scheme, one of the biggest town centre regeneration schemes in the East of England, with a gross development value of around £350million.
The SG1 scheme has nine development sites, and will create a new town for today’s modern way of living – it will involve building new contemporary homes, creating one central location for community facilities, adding a pedestrian boulevard from the town square to the station, improving our public spaces, and attracting shops, bars and restaurants into new retail space in the centre of the town.
Reef Group is one of the UK’s leading retail developers, specialising in urban regeneration and mixed-use development and investment. We will be working with Reef on the Queensway North project: a retail-led, mixed-use scheme that will deliver significant improvements to an existing retail block in the centre of town.