Business and political leaders have declared their joint commitment to the transformation of Stevenage, as regeneration is brought together for the first time at district and county level with the business community.
Almost one year on from the publication of the Stevenage Central Town Centre Framework, members of Stevenage First have committed to working together to deliver the vision for the town, jointly signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) this week (16 June).
Stevenage First is made up of Stevenage Borough Council, Hertfordshire County Council, Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce and Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Together they are responsible for driving forward over £1 billion of development across six major opportunity areas in the town centre. The masterplan includes a new rail station, 3,600 new homes, 65,000 sqm of office space, 24,000 sqm of retail, four star hotels and a new community hub.
Since publication of the Framework last July, essential transport and infrastructure studies have been undertaken to map out what is needed for major works to start. Development partners are being sought for the first phase of regeneration including a new library, medical facilities and town centre housing. Confirmation from Network Rail of £18.8 million for a new fifth platform at Stevenage Station in 2020 has also proved a significant step towards plans for a new train station.
Stevenage First chairman Andrew Percival said: “We want Stevenage Town Centre to be a leader and innovator for urban regeneration. Today marks a major milestone in our shared ambitions to create a 21st century destination for residents, business and future generations and proof of our formal commitment to partnership working.
“By working jointly as partners, we can build on previous regeneration attempts and ensure that we deliver for Stevenage, Hertfordshire and the South East. We have big ambitions which will take a while to put in place but there is a collective energy, confidence and determination for growth and change.”
Cllr Sharon Taylor Stevenage Borough Council Leader said: “Stevenage is in the heart of a growth area, where we can reap the benefits of cutting edge industries, a rising economy and new development. Each member of Stevenage First brings an essential expertise and insight to the vision. We are 100% committed to delivering lasting regeneration and over the coming months we will be looking to secure investment and real change with our partners.”
Cllr Derrick Ashley, Cabinet Member for Environment, Planning & Transport, said: “What is good for Stevenage is good for Hertfordshire, the South East and the UK economy. A key part of our role will be securing the resources needed within infrastructure to underpin growth and regeneration and progress is already happening with key studies in these areas due to be published in the coming months.”
Hertfordshire LEP helped to secure £15 million of Government funding for Stevenage First to develop the Masterplan. The LEP works to increase the economic prosperity of the county. Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce has more than 1,000 business members across the county.
Neville Reyner, CBE DL, Chairman of Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce said: “Stevenage is pioneering innovation in science, pharmaceuticals and many other fields and is ideally placed to gain from its close proximity to the Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Oxford corridor and within the Golden Triangle of research and investment stretching from Cambridge, to Oxford and London. There is now an opportunity to build on this for the town and the wider county which we are ready to seize.”
The signing of the MoU sets out Stevenage First’s role to promote and co-ordinate development and drive delivery through agreed programmes. The next step will be plans for the complete refurbishment of Stevenage train station including opportunities for development on neighbouring sites.