Business case recommendations for a new garden square, innovation and technology centre, and pedestrian connectivity and heritage trial have been approved by Stevenage Borough Council's Executive.

The three projects seek to bring together a range of arts, culture, leisure, food, community events, transport and learning facilities to the town centre.

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 public square for leisure, food and drink, and community performances adjacent to Stevenage Town Square, and seeks to transform the current bus station into a vibrant multi-purpose space.

Plans from the £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.

Collectively these schemes are set to help to create a diverse town centre economy, while utilising retail, leisure, culture and experience to attract footfall to ensure that new and existing businesses can thrive.

The Stevenage Innovation and Technology Centre (SITEC) – a new purpose-built learning facility located in Stevenage town centre - aims to address the skills deficits that underpin the gap in employment and earnings.

The SITEC will provide Level 3, 4 and 5 courses and act as a bridge between further and higher education, provide skilled local labour to local industries and showcase the town’s industries to inspire our young people.

The third proposal to be considered by the 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.

Adrian Hawkins, 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.

“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.

“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."

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.

Council leader Sharon Taylor 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.

“The SITEC is an important development, providing education, skills and training for better life chances for our young people, while capitalising on our unique heritage of technology, life sciences and pharma industries that have made Stevenage their home."