Answering your Questions
The town centre is a hot topic in Stevenage, and lots of questions come up when we talked about it at recent consultation events around the town. We’ve answered some of the most commonly-asked questions here.
How long is the regeneration programme?
During 2017 we will be appointing a developer partner for the first phase of our regeneration journey known as SG1. After the successful developer has been selected, the planning process will take approximately two years and in 2019 you will start to see positive changes taking place. The full regeneration programme for the town centre – Stevenage Central Framework – is planned to take 20 years and will transform the area into a vibrant and exciting town centre that will be a great place to live, work and enjoy.
What is SG1 and why are you starting with this area?
SG1 is an area of the town centre that will include new retail, public realm, modern health facilities, new library and new housing along Southgate within a linear park. Stevenage Borough Council has bought the Plaza site with the intent to improve retail and introduce housing around the town square. During the past few years we have worked hard to put into place viable plans to extend and improve the area - increasing SBC’s land ownership to 70% - giving us the best possible position to begin our regeneration journey. At the same time as assessing the SG1 area we have scoped other development areas in the town that can be brought forward subject to funding arrangements.
Does this phase depend on government funding?
No, we can progress this project without requiring additional funding. However, we do have £12m additional LEP funding reserved to help speed up the process.
Will there be any change to the town centre this year?
Yes, a private developer has already begun works to regenerate property at Park Place. Warren James has recently moved into a larger site and a new Starbucks is due to open in April. New public realm is now being upgraded at Littlewoods Square and Forum Square.
What is the Stevenage Central Framework?
The Framework is a council backed regeneration plan which identifies development opportunities across the town centre and has been produced with consultants David Lock Associates and architects Cushman and Wakefield Associates - both renowned regeneration specialists. The Framework takes into account the options and opportunities available depending on market trends and conditions. Research for the Framework included looking at several other similar towns – Bracknell, Hemel and Bedford – where regeneration was also split into separate areas.
Will the town centre sculptures remain?
There are no plans to remove either of the Grade II listed statues – Joyride and the Clock Tower. They are an integral aspect of Stevenage’s heritage.
Will we get new shops?
One of the key elements of the framework is the provision of new retail. Modern retailers require modern facilities and the regeneration of the Town Centre will provide this. New housing in this area will generate increased footfall as residents seek local opportunities to visit new modern retail units, bars, cafes and restaurants in great public spaces. With the current selection of high street retailers - Next, Primark, River Island and H&M - regeneration will increase the opportunities and prospects to bring more traders into the town centre.
What other areas are included for regeneration?
The Stevenage Central Framework includes all the potential development areas for consideration over the next 20 years. These areas are dependent on government funding, developer engagement and the vision of current landowners. Park Place is currently being renovated by private developers.
Will there be housing built in the town centre?
Changing lifestyles and 21st Century views of the world have created a strong demand for town centre living. Most towns now have people living in central areas, as this generates footfall; when there are people living in the town centre, there is a need for more services and shops to match their needs. Locally we can see how the Old Town-High Street has changed and improved since it became more residential. More people in the town centre will lead to a wider range of retailers, restaurants and leisure facilities. The town centre will not close at 17.30pm and there will be vibrancy in the evenings. With housing supply in short demand SBC is also committed to 500 new social rented homes across the town as a whole by 2025.
Will there be adequate parking?
Lots of the redevelopment opportunities highlighted in the Stevenage Central Framework will involve building on what are currently ground-level car parks. We plan to replace these with new car parks around the station and an improved market car park. New housing developments will need to provide spaces within the respective schemes.
Will you be closing services before replacements are open?
Creating facilities fit for the 21st Century provides the exciting opportunity for bringing services together. During the first phase of development our aim is that a new library, health and other public services will be sited together at one location. As with other major regeneration schemes, new facilities are built before existing facilities are demolished or used for a different purpose. That is what we would expect to happen in Stevenage regeneration schemes and during the development phases we are not expecting disruption or closure to existing services.
Why does it take so long before there are any real signs of regeneration?
All regeneration programmes take a long time; this is to ensure that the best decisions are made before any major and significant changes can take place. Planning for big regeneration programmes can take several years due to their complex nature and detailed plans. For SG1 we have completed the first stages by acquiring land and property, putting together funding arrangements, appointing and working with commercial advisors, and completing studies that help us develop. We then move on to the next phase of getting in a developer. During the planning phase some aspects may need to be amended due to unforeseen circumstances which could mean delays whilst new plans are drawn up. Only when all the right details are in place can works begin. The process to begin the regeneration programme has already started and there will soon be positive changes to the town centre to make it a great place to live, work and enjoy.