Shopping in Stevenage is set to become more convenient thanks to a £58,000 project to extend opening hours and provide free town centre parking from 4pm.
Stevenage Borough Council secured a grant from the High Street Innovation Fund, as part of the Portas Bid for High Streets and has been working with local businesses to introduce a trial for improved late-night shopping from Monday 8 October until 19 January.
More than 30 shops including Marks and Spencer, Primark, TK Maxx, New Look, Top Shop, WH Smith, BHS and Next will be extending their opening hours to 6pm with the Westgate, The Forum, Marshgate and St George’s multi-storey car parks all becoming free to drivers after 4pm, as part of the trial scheme.
Councillor John Gardner, Executive member for Environment and Regeneration, said, “We hope that offering shoppers longer opening hours and free spaces after 4pm will encourage residents to shop later and improve the shopping experience in Stevenage.”
Councillor Ralph Raynor, Executive member for Economy, Enterprise and Transport, said, “We have worked closely with local businesses, bus companies and the Town Centre Management company to make the improvements and we hope it will give residents the perfect excuse to shop after work in the run-up to the festive period to give local businesses a much-needed boost.”
The project will also see the council spruce up the town with new signage and the re-painting and re-surfacing of the train station ramp.
During the scheme, the barriers on car parks will remain operational and drivers using the car parks will take a chip coin at the barrier on entry as usual and then deposit the same chip on exit, without payment.
The future of the scheme will be considered following the end of the trial in January.