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Borough Council’s Executive approves Stevenage Towns Fund projects

Stevenage Borough Council’s Executive approved recommendations through business cases for a new Garden Square, Stevenage Innovation & Technology Centre (SITEC) and Cycling & Pedestrian Connectivity and Heritage Trail on Friday 4 March 2022. These three projects seek to bring together a range of arts, culture, leisure, food, community events, transport and learning facilities to the town centre and are about delivering high quality, rejuvenated places for local residents to enjoy. The proposals also address the skills and training gap, creating opportunities for our young people and welcoming different sectors and audiences to the town centre as a part of Stevenage’s Town Investment Plan.

The Garden Square development (part of the SG1 scheme by Mace) brings forward a new high quality public square for leisure, food & drink, and community performances adjacent to Stevenage Town Square and seeks to transform the current bus station into a vibrant multi-purpose space.

Drawing on the principles of the Grimsey Review and the Stevenage Central Framework, these plans from our £37.5 million Town’s Fund (the second highest awarded in the country), seek to use leisure, culture, hospitality and an exciting events programme to create a vibrant town centre for all to enjoy. Collectively these schemes will also help to create a diverse town centre economy, whilst utilising retail, leisure, culture and experience to attract footfall to ensure that new and existing businesses can thrive, and provide the amenities that residents, businesses and visitors need to make Stevenage a vibrant 21st century town.

The Stevenage Innovation and Technology Centre (SITEC) – a new purpose-built learning facility located in the heart of Stevenage town centre will help address the skills deficits that underpin the gap in employment and earnings, and is important in delivering an interface between Stevenage’s residents and the high-tech, high-value national and international businesses located in the town.

The SITEC will provide Level 3, 4 and 5 courses and act as a bridge between further and higher education, providing skilled local labour to local industries and showcase the town’s industries to inspire our young people. Courses could offer specialisms in Engineering, Life sciences, Biotechnology, Digital and Computing Innovation and Advanced Construction Skills – all critical to the Stevenage area and the wider Hertfordshire and UK economy.

Cllr Sharon Taylor, Leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “I am delighted to see the Garden Square proposals coming forward in the heart of the town centre and utilisation of empty town centre retail spaces to help create a better experience for our residents and visitors alike.”

“These plans will additionally help our businesses, with greater footfall and spending power within the town centre to support our local economy.”

“The SITEC is an important development, providing education, skills and training for better life chances for our young people, whilst capitalising on our unique heritage of technology, life sciences and pharma industries that have made Stevenage their home. Unlocking these opportunities by working with businesses and providing local young people with skills and employment is also a priority for us.”

“Stevenage is going through exciting transformation, and our residents sit at the heart of these ambitious plans. We are leading a period of change that will celebrate our legacy as the first post-war town, whilst creating a modern, diversified town centre offering something for everyone. We look forward to delivering these ambitious plans together with the Stevenage Development Board and our private sector partners.”

The third proposal to be considered by the Stevenage Borough Council Executive is The Cycling & Pedestrian Connectivity and Heritage Trail, which includes the delivery of enhanced pedestrian and cycling infrastructure that will link between new developments in the town centre and other growth schemes our impressive 45km cycling network - increasing accessibility and levels of health and wellbeing through increased cycling and walking. The proposal also includes a heritage and arts trail that will connect with the public realm and provide opportunities to showcase the wide range of arts and culture assets that the town has to offer.

Adrian Hawkins OBE, the independent Chair of the Stevenage Development Board, said: “The final three cases which are being recommended to the council’s executive represent the culmination of a very successful submission to government in 2021. This led to the securing of a £37.5m contribution as part of the Town’s Fund and I am proud to say that this is the second highest received anywhere in the country.

“As the first new town ever to be created in the UK, Stevenage is a post war vision of modern life and the need for this funding has arisen because some of this infrastructure requires enhancement and other aspects replacement, with services more representative of current times.

“The first of the final three business cases deals with cycling and heritage connectivity, everyone knows that our 45km of cycleway within the town was simply a visionary investment and that it connects our heritage for all to enjoy - it clearly is the future of our town.

“The second case supports the replacement of our vast 1950’s bus station with a remarkable collaboration, leading to the delivery of our new Garden Square and diversification of retail space - recognising absolutely that “the heart of a town lies in its people”.

“But it is my opinion that of all these excellent developments, it is SITEC which offers the biggest opportunity. There can be little doubt that agreement to this case means that we have the means to deliver social mobility by creating a radical change in people’s lives, creating local employment opportunities, supporting our local businesses, and providing higher incomes to those that wish to aspire to a better way of life.

“The town has seen the continued development of advanced manufacturing, life sciences, technology and pharmaceuticals with various employers already basing themselves within the Town. More will of course follow, and this means that in the next five to seven years we will see some 7,000 jobs created requiring level 3 qualifications and above. As a result, the need is clear for the Stevenage Innovation and Technology Centre (SITEC) and it will be launched to provide a clear focus and delivery of skills at this level and above.

“It is real world differences to people’s lives such as these, which I am most proud to be delivering as part of this regeneration of our town.”

These projects form part of the transformation of the Town Centre through the Town’s Fund and will be delivered by the Stevenage Development Board and Stevenage Borough Council, as part of the Stevenage Even Better £1bn regeneration programme.   Planning permission has been granted for a number of developments in the town to deliver new homes, jobs and transformation of our public spaces to create a vibrant destination.