Give us a town centre to be proud of

HAVING spent quite a lot of time lately listening to other people s opinions of the new plans for Stevenage town centre, it was only last week that I managed to decide what I think myself. I went along to a meeting of the borough council where the develop

HAVING spent quite a lot of time lately listening to other people's opinions of the new plans for Stevenage town centre, it was only last week that I managed to decide what I think myself.

I went along to a meeting of the borough council where the developers gave a presentation of the plans and, to my surprise, I found myself quite enthused about the whole thing.

I had previously looked briefly at the plans in the exhibition, which looked impressive enough, but the computer-generated 'flyover' experience which was shown at last week's meeting was quite a sight.

It didn't look like Stevenage, it looked like a town I would want to go to rather than the one I happen to work in.


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Stevenage has its fair number of detractors - I will hold my hands up and admit to being one of them from time to time.

There are parts of it that are just grotty and there are parts of it that have seen better days.

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The town centre in its current form is dull and uninspiring.

I have been Stevenage reporter at The Comet for a while now and I have to say that it is only this experience which has made me come to realise why the town is special to so many people.

Through my work here, I have come to realise that for a generation of people, the town symbolised a new start, fresh hope, and the chance to be actively involved in physically building their new town, as well as contributing to the community.

The trouble is now the experiences of that generation are memories and stories. We have to take a step back and see the town through the eyes of the younger generations.

And it may not be a sight they welcome.

Stevenage does not have a lively, thriving town centre, the kind of town centre you want to linger in and soak up the atmosphere.

For me at least, it is the place you go to visit the shops you need and then leave without giving it much thought.

I'm no fool and Stevenage is never going to be Hitchin, with its old buildings and its market town charm.

But watching that presentation the other night, I really did start to believe that it could, in its own right, be a vibrant, attractive place.

There are still some issues to address - I know for example there are concerns over the siting of the bus station.

Another comment from the public was that they wish the improvements could be extended to other areas of the town.

I think investment of this scale is unlikely in other parts of the town but I hope that, if this plan gets the go-ahead, it will inspire a new era of civic pride among the younger generations that will extend to all areas of Stevenage.

There are some nice parts of the town and with a glamorous, cosmopolitan town centre it could start to become a town everyone feels proud of again.

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