Stevenage developers answer questions on major £350 million town centre investment
International developers Mace formally launched its £350 million scheme to regenerate the heart of Stevenage town centre at an event at the Ibis Hotel’s conference and banqueting suite on Tuesday.
Hundreds of representatives of businesses, councillors and stakeholders gathered to hear representatives from the firm – whose most famous project is London’s The Shard – outline the key features of the so-called SG1 development which will see part of the town centre transformed with more than 1,000 new homes, bars, restaurants, a new town square and boulevard, and a public services hub.
The audience was presented with slides showing how the scheme will look and comparing it to similar Mace regeneration schemes such as the Greenwich centre in London.
Audience members raised questions including how parking for the new homes will be dealt with.
The Mace team responded saying that parking for the homes will be limited as there is a vision to utilise the existing parking in the town centre as far as possible.
There will also be an emphasis on developing as much ‘green’ transport as possible, including cycling and shared electric car schemes.
The director of Stevenage Leisure Limited, Ian Morton, asked about the future of leisure services in Stevenage, with council leader Sharon Taylor stating that nothing will be done to threaten the provision of the theatre which sits above the leisure centre and that ways to incorporate the town’s leisure offer within a new cultural strategy are being developed by SBC.
A representative of networking group biz4Biz questioned what is being done to the transport infrastructure on the A1(M) and connections to it to cater for new development.
Herts County Council’s leader David Williams told him that funding is in place for a smart motorway scheme between Stevenage and Welwyn, and work should start on it within the next two years. He said ideally a full three-lane motorway section would be preferable – but is not possible given the restrictions of the road.
In response to questions about what retail offer the new development will have, the Mace team said that while largely residential, the SG1 scheme will include new food and beverage offerings. Mrs Taylor added that the town already has a “fantastic” retail offer, but that the SG1 scheme will help get more retailers and developers interested. The council itself does not own a large part of the town’s retail offering but does own most of the areas proposed for SG1.