The £1bn transformation of Stevenage Town Centre

Hertfordshire Mercury
Matthew Smith
June 16 2020

It’s an exciting time in Stevenage’s future. As people start to return to the town centre it brings a new sense that normality might just be returning.

But, for the Herts town, there is much more on the horizon.

After redevelopment plans fell apart in the past, most notably in 2008 after the financial crisis, we’re now years into a decades-long project to breathe new life into the town.

As coronavirus shut construction sites this time around, it was hard not to feel a little sense of dread that 2008 was happening all over again.

Luckily, it appears that it’ll be little more than a blip with construction resumed again on most of the projects – including the Town Square and the £50m transformation of Queensway North

£1bn will be spent on Stevenage over the next 20 years, with the redevelopments primarily focusing on underused space and forgotten parts of town.

The project is being spearheaded by established construction companies Reef and Mace, who were recently involved with the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

That means there should be little disruption for established businesses as the area around them improves. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Benefits for local people

Danestrete

One main question mark is whether this project is being done to benefit the people who have lived in Stevenage for years or to appeal to commuters wanting to escape London.

However, this was quickly disputed by the Council Leader Sharon Taylor, who pointed out the benefits for local people throughout the process and once it’s completed.

Cllr Taylor said: “The Stevenage Works project, which works with the construction companies, has a £130,000 grant which means we will have Stevenage people to do the jobs, and that is a really great thing to do.”

And, while there are fears that the area could become a nondescript commuter town, the Leader pointed out plenty of people work in London but join community schemes and charities in the area already and that it’s not as simplistic as that.

A council spokesman, who showed HertsLive around the sites, also argued that while people do move for its access to the capital, Stevenage is a large employer in its own right – including with leading airline manufacturer Airbus and BMW.

There’s also increased office space to bring those companies right into the heart of the town and it means those local businesses in the centre will be benefiting from much higher footfall than they currently have.

The move to bring housing into the town centre should also bring more people to spend – whether it’s in gyms, restaurants or shops once they all fully reopen.

What do the plans involve?

Skyline - Stevenage

There are 18 different schemes announced so far set to transform the town centre.

The plans completed include Skyline and Brickdale House, and Vista Tower, which have brought much needed housing to the town and helped shake some of the grey tower blocks.

But for visitors to the town it may not be as noticeable yet, while the revamp of Market Place is much improved, it’s not enough to draw people in.

But that should be about to change. Now that the early work has been completed, the more ambitious refitting and rebuilding work is well underway.

Work has been ahead of schedule on the redevelopment of the railway station, with a new bus interchange soon to follow, meaning the first impression of the town will soon be much more impressive.

Then when visitors arrived it’ll be almost unrecognisable to how it is now, with a new pedestrianised boulevard offering a light, modern feel to what is quite a bleak part of the town. Work is expected to begin on that in 2025.

There will also be an almost brand new Town Square, which brings offices to the town centre as well as giving the whole town a much needed lick of paint once it’s completed in the next couple of years.

That involves a £50m refit of the ageing Queensway North, which began early 2019 and will include a town centre gym, with the huge old Marks and Spencer building redesigned to accommodate housing and new shops.

The small team behind the plans are all local to Stevenage, which has ensured the plans bear in mind what has worked in the past, as well as local gripes – and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

The benefit of a local team is also that little touches are thought about too – including ensuring the Joyride statue will be completely accessible for the first time in its history.

There’s also a commitment to get rid of the old police station, which is a huge, empty eyesore for most people walking into the town centre.

There is also the commitment of 1,100 new homes being completed by 2021 – with hundreds more to arrive in the years after.

Stevenage remains one of the most affordable places to live in Hertfordshire, and by meeting housing demand that should remain the case despite the vast improvements to the town.

There are also some specific commitments made, including Kenilworth Close which will deliver 236 new homes, with 50% of those being affordable and social rented homes.

Park Place

Park Place Stevenage

 

One of the most notable new developments already completed is Park Place, which is a sleek modern looking building, but one that has frustrated local people.

Despite being completed in 2019, the retail space has stood largely empty – with just one shop moving in, unfortunately a couple of weeks prior to lockdown.

However, Peter Beard of MBU Capital, who are responsible for the development, said that things have been progressing.

Speaking in March ahead of the lockdown, he pointed out that the sales of the residential properties have been strong.

He said: “There are 202 apartments, of which just over 161 have been sold, and only a few of those still need to be occupied, and the remainder remain for sale using a variety of means –  whether that’s cash or a mortgage or help to buy is still available on them.”

Mr Beard also responded to speculation about whether the empty space indicated that the rental price was too high.

“[Rents] are competitive, we also manage some of the units on Queensway and know the tone of rent in The Forum, so competitively they’re actually below those levels.

“But they are fully respectful that we aren’t on the main pitch, so I’m comfortable with the rates we’ve been attaining pound per square foot from our incoming tenancies.

“I know what we’ve been getting in Park Place is an acceptable rate, we’re happy with what we’ve got.”

Instead, MBU believe there has been a lack of demand across the retail sector but is hopeful once momentum builds around both Park Place and the town, more progress will be made.

Stevenage Even Better also insisted that over the whole town there will be a focus away from traditional retail and onto office space, restaurants and leisure facilities.

That diversity ensures that the town won’t be so dependent on retailers as it has been in the past, while also giving residents a more vibrant town centre experience.

Before the coronavirus lockdown, those involved in the plan boasted about how the work was actually ahead of schedule – almost completely unheard of when it comes to major projects.

That may have now been pushed back slightly but – whisper it quietly – after false dawns in the past, it looks like Stevenage will soon have the town centre it deserves.

To read the feature on the Hertfordshire Mercury website click here 

Stevenage Town Centre Regeneration: What’s changing?

The Comet
Georgia Barrow
15 January 2020

Visitors to the town centre in recent months will have noticed a major increase in development activity.

So far, Market Place has benefitted from the introduction of a play trail, work has started on Queensway North – the former Marks & Spencer building – and the Town Square, which have both seen new retail outlets and leisure and residential facilities.

There have also been a number of private developments – such as Park Place – nearing completion.

Hundreds of residents have taken part in a number of consultations held by the council as well as private firms hoping to be a part of the huge redevelopment of the town centre, including Mace, which has recently submitted a planning application for the biggest development in the regeneration plans, called SG1.

Stevenage is set to benefit from the provision of up to £25m from the New Towns Fund to further develop its regeneration plans. All in all, there’s a significant amount of activity taking place in the town at the moment.

The regeneration programme is a boost for those looking to see upgrades to the central areas of the town.

Across the country, town and city centres are facing challenges. Reports from late last year by PriceWaterhouseCooper revealed that around 16 shops are closing every day, the highest rate since the survey began in 2010.

In Stevenage, the regeneration plan is to revitalise the town, to provide a place for people to live, work, relax and play. This plan learns from studies like The Grimsey Review, that recommend kickstarting town and city centres by including a combination of shops, bars, restaurants and leisure facilities, creating a more vibrant town, more demand and a place to spend time both in the day and during the evening.

The SG1 planning application for the Stevenage town centre regeneration has been submitted. Picture: Mace

The SG1 planning application for the Stevenage town centre regeneration has been submitted. Picture: Mace

But how will the regeneration reshape Stevenage? Partnerships have been signed with organisations including Mace, the firm that built the Shard and the London Eye, and Reef Estates to deliver the major, 20-year, £1bn programme that’s set to transform Stevenage.

Reef is currently redeveloping Queensway North while Mace – working in partnership with Ashe – has started work on the major upgrade of the Town Square in the past few months.

Mace is also delivering the single largest scheme – SG1 – which will transform the existing town centre, creating a new Garden Square, a new linear park at Southgate Park and a new boulevard in the centre of the town. Those behind the plans say The Hub is a key part of SG1 and will provide a shared space featuring a new library along with health, voluntary, council and other groups under one roof making services significantly more convenient.

Part of Queensway is under development, with contractors from Reef already on site in the former M&S unit and the adjacent buildings.

The redevelopment of Park Place, if given the go ahead, is set to kick-start the regeneration of Stevenage town centre.

SG1 from above – Picture: Park Place

Work is also under way to upgrade and relocate the existing bus station to meet 21st century needs.

The new interchange will provide bus users with a modern, heated, indoor waiting area and café, with significantly improved facilities, toilets, and live passenger information boards.

The relocation closer to the railway station combined with the introduction of new streets that are part of the SG1 development, will also aim to improve public transport links across Stevenage and beyond.

The redevelopment of Park Place, if given the go ahead, is set to kick-start the regeneration of Stevenage town centre.
SG1 Proposals

 

Stevenage Borough Council is set to submit planning permission for the new bus station, located in what is currently a car park south of the Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre, with hopes of opening it in 2021.

The existing bus station site will become a location for a new Garden Square in the heart of the town that will offer an attractive location relax and enjoy, with new cafes and places to eat and drink.

SG1 explained – the detail

The proposals for the SG1 project submitted by construction company Mace is set to cost £350 million and will come in a number of phases.

The redevelopment of Park Place, if given the go ahead, is set to kick-start the regeneration of Stevenage town centre.
The redevelopment of Park Place

 

The large development – which will be financed by private funding and land sales – is due to begin its first phase this year, subject to planning permission.

If adopted, phase one will see the development of Swingate House and car park – the opposite Westgate multi-storey – the old police bullding and social services, which are currently derelict, and adjacent garages.

It will also see 760 new homes with a new Southgate Park.

The second phase, which will begin in approximately 2023, will see the development of the new Garden Square, located where the current bus station is.

Stevenage Borough Council has plans to move the bus station to a site south of the Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre, with hopes of completion by 2021 – subject to planning.

Phase three and four – set for 2024 and 2027 respectively – will include the development of the new public services hub and two new residential blocks and the demolition of the Plaza, council office, Mecca Bingo. The current library and ear clinic will be developed into 750 new homes.

Councillor Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “It is crucial that we adapt and improve Stevenage to help make the town centre a place for us all to enjoy.

“I am proud of the heritage of the town and looking forward to a bright future.”

Computer-generated images of what the new development will look like. Picture: Reef Group.
Computer-generated images of what the new development will look like. Picture: Reef Group.

 

For more on the developments go to www.stevenage-even-better.com, or visit the Visitor Centre, which is open in the Town Square, from Wednesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm.

Consultations will continue to take place as planning proposals are brought forward, so that residents can have their say on the plans.

https://www.thecomet.net/news/stevenage-regeneration-what-s-happened-so-far-1-6466110

Why we are celebrating New Town heritage

Local Government Chronicle
Chris Barnes
8 January 2020

Stevenage was developed as the first New Town in the UK in 1946. It promised much: to provide homes, to pull people out of the slums of war-ravaged London and to offer a ­better quality of life.

More than 60 years later the town is still driving forward as home to major international firms like Airbus, MBDA and GSK. It’s also benefiting from a £1bn regeneration scheme, the largest of its type in the east of England, which is designed to reimagine the town and transform it into a place where people can live, work, play and relax. It aims to make use of some of the town’s famous New Town architectural heritage.

Decades ago, Leonard Vincent, Stevenage Development Corporation’s chief architect and planner, described the town like this: “Around the square and central pedestrian way the buildings are constructed with a pre-cast reinforced concrete frame and clad in steel, glass, stone, exposed stone aggregate panels, mosaics, tiles and brick.”

Ageing concrete

The concrete-dominated approach was once seen as cutting-edge, but in recent decades that’s not been the case, and as the first New Town, the majority of central spaces and amenities were built at the same time, meaning they’ve aged similarly, leaving buildings and streets feeling tired and in need of investment. Stevenage is also not immune from the wider challenges affecting town centres.

“We’ll be following the principle of less is more, aiming for minimal ‘street clutter’ with uniform materials and colour palettes”

The single biggest scheme in the 20-year regeneration project is being led by Mace in partnership with Stevenage BC. Called SG1, the £350m project will include the creation of 11 new buildings, five new, distinct character areas and a series of streets and thoroughfares designed to improve connectivity and accessibility across the town. There will be a shared facility containing health, voluntary, charity and council services.

Although this may seem like a traditional regeneration programme, in Stevenage – as always – we’re doing things slightly differently. As well as improving facilities for residents, we’re also placing a major focus on architecture, and making the most of our status as the first New Town.

Reinvigorated heritage

While Stevenage’s distinct architecture and design may not be to everyone’s taste, it is iconic and not something that should be cast aside. Rather than making a clean break from the heritage that has put Stevenage on the map, we’re reinvigorating it, restoring traditional buildings with a modern flourish.

Stevenage-3-300x200.pngThe decision to continue to follow the architectural heritage of the original New Town has been deeply embedded into the earliest inception of the Stevenage Central Framework upon which all regeneration programmes are based. These principles have fed into designs for our campaigns and can be seen clearly in the images our developers have produced and the schemes currently under way. The creation of this plan then led to the development of a local plan which outlined the value of this approach.

The local plan and associated framework had some challenges, including conservation areas and listed structures in central spaces that have proved, in some cases, to be a difficult obstacle to overcome.

We have heeded the guidance of groups like Historic England and are working with them to find a solution that maximises the potential of our central spaces while recognising the importance of these protected structures and entities.

The designs for the next stage of the town are not quite as starkly geometric as those Leonard Vincent described, but the new developments – particularly in the town square – take advantage of the existing structures and frontages. The new paving, being installed this autumn as one of the first stages of the project, will align with these initial designs.

Less is more – again

Our new layout will express characteristic modern principles and will establish the function of the area through a minimal approach to design aimed at facilitating public life. As in the last century we’ll be following the principle of less is more, aiming for minimal ‘street clutter’ with uniform materials and colour palettes being used to accent the dark tiling that currently surrounds some of our key ­features like the fountain, clock tower and iconic ‘Joyride’ statue that have been a part of the town for decades.

Stevenage-300x200.jpgThe developments will feature more rectangular and square shapes, following and echoing the initial style of the New Town, along with landscaping and artwork enabling a functional design of asymmetrical composition that’s typical of Modernist town centres.

We’re working with the brands and outlets here to ensure that any additional work that is carried out by private tenants also follows the style we have agreed, and the designs we have proposed clearly echo the initial Brutalist style. Looking further down the line, we’re also looking to feed in some of the artistic heritage of the town by including work from artists like ­Franka Belsky, Henry Moore and Piet Mondrian, whose work formed a key part of the early development of the town centre.

“A quarter of the satellites currently ­orbiting Earth were built at Stevenage’s Airbus facility”

Initial discussions mooted positioning Stevenage as a tourist destination. While this may seem like a distant dream, it is not that far from reality. The town is the first ­example of New Town architecture and has plenty to boast about, not least that more than a quarter of the satellites currently ­orbiting Earth were built at its Airbus facility. However, in the shorter term the central focus is to transform Stevenage into a place where people once again want to live, work and enjoy.

Popular appeal

The strategy of celebrating the heritage of the New Town has, to date, been a popular one and we’ve received strong commitments from businesses and retailers based here which have welcomed plans to increase footfall, regenerate the town and provide a better platform for further investment. There has, of course, been a degree of scepticism, as there is with any major campaign like this, and particularly in a town where regeneration has been promised before. However, the vast majority of residents and businesses have been very positive, and more than 3,000 people have come to the visitor centre we set up to communicate the changes.

Stevenage holds an important position both as the first New Town and at a wider, national level, and we must celebrate what makes our town unique, and be proud of the place we live and work in.

Why we are celebrating New Town heritage in our £1bn regeneration scheme

 

 

BBC Look East came to town on 13 January 2020 to discuss the ongoing work on the Town Square and our wider plans for SG1 – take a look at the footage and let us know your thoughts

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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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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Regeneration start date set for 2020 as Mace signs contract

The Comet – Regeneration start date set for 2020 as Mace sign contract

Georgia Barrow

14 March 2019

A formal commitment has been made between Stevenage Borough Council and developers Mace Group Ltd for the redevelopment of Stevenage’s town centre, with work set to begin in 2020.

Mace – which built London’s The Shard – were selected by the council last year following a tendering process which saw three other national developers competing for the work.

But the council today announced the signing of a new official agreement to work in partnership with Mace on the long-term transformation, securing a formal commitment.

The agreement builds on the council’s vision for the first phase of the regeneration which seeks to revamp the western side of the town centre where The Plaza, bus station, council offices, and several car parks are currently located – known as SG1.

Council leader Sharon Taylor said: “This is an exciting time for Stevenage and the future of our town centre. Signing this deal with Mace highlights our ambitious vision for Stevenage as we grow our town and improve the services, environment and facilities we currently offer to residents.

“We’ve seen a number of projects already completed in our town centre as part of the regeneration programme including Market Place, Vista Tower and updating our public spaces.

“SG1 will be transformational, and drive significant, positive change for our town centre. We’re delighted to have Mace on board and can’t wait for development to get under way.”

SG1 is one of the largest regeneration schemes in the region with a gross development value of around £350 million.

The mixed-use regeneration scheme includes plans to create a series of new streets within Stevenage, as well as a redesigned Town Square.

The development will also create new public spaces as well as a public services hub – which will include a new library and health facilities – bringing key council services into one building.

David Grover, Mace’s chief operating officer for development, said: “This agreement marks a major step forward for the transformation of Stevenage town centre.

“With a contract agreed we can now get started in earnest in delivering the regeneration of the town centre – I look forward to seeing our exciting plans come to life.”

Andrew Percival, chairman of the Stevenage First partnership, added: “Today’s contract signing represents a significant milestone in the opportunity to deliver a town centre that’s fit for the 21st century and offers modern facilities and amenities for residents and visitors to live, work and play.

“The scheme that Mace has developed aligns with Stevenage’s heritage as the UK’s first new town and highlights their confidence in its future growth prospects. We’re delighted to announce that the contract is in place and look forward to working in partnership with Mace.”

Earlier this year the Comet reported on improvements made to Market Place which saw the council working with Meeres Civil Engineering, which included new seating, greenery and play equipment.

Preliminary works are also under way for a £50 million revamp to Queensway North – a shopping area of the town – under a partnership between Stevenage Borough Council and Reef Group.

Building work – which was due to begin at the end of January – is set to begin in the coming weeks.

Residents and businesses will be invited to have their say on the SG1 regeneration with a consultation planned for this summer.

Work is expected to take place over several phases, with the first construction project starting in 2020.

https://www.thecomet.net/news/stevenage-town-centre-regeneration-mace-contract-1-5935962

Queensway North: £50m contract signed

Stevenage Comet – Queensway North: £50m contract signed
Louise Mcevoy
13th December 2018

Stevenage Borough Council has partnered with Reef Group to spearhead the Queensway North regeneration scheme, which comprises of the former Marks & Spencer store and adjoining retail parade.

Funded by Aviva Investors, the borough council said the scheme will be transformational, updating tired and dated buildings and shopping areas for the first time in many years.

The development – which will be the first of the borough council’s mixed-use regeneration projects – will also include 45,000 square foot of new retail and restaurant space, a gym, new offices, an innovation and technology centre, and 116 apartments.

It is hoped the move will bring shoppers back into the town centre, as well as revive the night-time economy.

Councillor Sharon Taylor, the leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “Our vision is to reinvigorate the centre of Stevenage, and with Reef Group now on board we’re in a great position to deliver on this vision.

“Together we’re bringing a new and different type of shopping experience, an innovation and technology centre, and more homes into the heart of our town, which will create a new and vibrant place for more people to shop, work and play.”

The chief executive of Reef Group, Piers Slater, said: “Working closely with Stevenage Borough Council, Reef Group are excited to have been able to embark on our shared vision to regenerate this important area of Stevenage.

“We’re delighted to be bringing new investment, occupiers and users to create a new district where people want to work, shop, and live.”

Mark Wells, director of Aviva Investors, said: “Reef and the council have impressive plans for the scheme which will give the town centre a new lease of life, supporting both housing need and economic development.”

Planning permission for the development was obtained in August and the first phase – the commercial aspect of the scheme – is due to be complete at the end of 2019, with the second phase – consisting of more than 100 new homes – set to be completed 12 months later.

https://www.thecomet.net/news/50-million-queensway-revamp-kick-starts-stevenage-town-centre-regeneration-1-5816168

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