What's happening with the Stevenage town centre regeneration?

This is the second in a series of articles providing an overview of how the project is going, telling you what you can expect from the town centre when it’s completed, and hearing from some of the people at the heart of the project.

In the first article, we answered some of your biggest questions about the regeneration and asked you to tell us what you think about the regeneration so far.

This week, we'll be going into detail about which elements of the regeneration have already been completed, and which are happening right now.

Which projects have already been completed?

New housing 

720 flats have been constructed as part of the regeneration. 

This includes:

  • 110 flats in the £50m Queensway North development (behind Puregym, completed in 2022)
  • 202 studio, 1- and 2-bedroom flats in Park Place (near the former Farmfoods store, completed in 2019)
  • 53 flats in Brickdale House (between Skyline and Westgate, completed in 2017)
  • 150 studio, 1- and 2-bedroom flats in Skyline (near Tesco Extra, completed in 2016)
  • 132 flats in Six Hills House (off the police station roundabout, completed in 2016)
  • 73 flats in Vista Tower (opposite the fire station, completed in 2016). 

The Comet: Leaseholders in Vista Tower have been hit with huge service chargesLeaseholders in Vista Tower have been hit with huge service charges (Image: Google Maps)

However, not all these developments have gone smoothly. Cladding issues have led to leaseholders of flats in Vista Tower being landed with service charges of up to £208,000. 

There have also been concerns about the affordability of many flats. On November 10, 2-bedroom flats on Rightmove had an asking price of up to £245,000 in Swingate and £240,000 at Six Hills House. Meanwhile, a 1-bedroom flat in Park Place had an asking price of £230,000. 

According to MoneySavingExpert, a couple seeking to take out a mortgage for £230,000 would have to have a joint pre-tax income of at least £66,000 per year. 

Improved public spaces 

Several spaces around the town centre have been improved. These include the recent completion of Event Island on the site of the old bus station, which officially opened on October 29, and includes a performance stage and seating. It’s expected to be there for at least two years before that space becomes the Garden Square. 

The Comet: New play equipment on Market PlaceNew play equipment on Market Place (Image: Stevenage Borough Council)

The town square has seen new paving, lighting and drainage installed, while Market Place (located off Queensway) gained a new children’s play space, street furniture and greenery in 2018. 

Across the town, there is also improved signage with 31 new signs installed in 2018. 

Transport improvements 

Some of the biggest completed projects are those involving transport to and from Stevenage, and around the town. 

A £40m expansion of the railway station was completed in 2020, adding a fifth platform for trains going to and from London via Hertford, and increasing overall capacity. This was part of the government’s £1.2bn East Coast Upgrade project. 

In the town itself, the old bus station has closed and a new £9.6m bus interchange opened this year, located on the dual carriageway opposite the railway station.

The Comet: The new bus interchange opened earlier this yearThe new bus interchange opened earlier this year (Image: Stevenage Borough Council)

It includes toilets, a heated and covered waiting area, a shop and a café, and was funded by a Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership. There are also newly landscaped areas and trees in the vicinity. 

However, some residents have criticised the road alterations that have taken place around Lytton Way as a result of these changes, with the queue to exit Tesco Extra often lengthy.

When we asked what your least favourite part of the regeneration so far was, one of the most common responses was the new road layout. 

New commercial, leisure and office space 

The opening of Co-Space in North Block off the town square provides space for 200 workers, while Queensway North offers 45,000 square feet of new retail, restaurant and co-working space.

Queensway North tenants already include Cakebox, Chateau Café, Card Factory and Puregym, with a Turkish restaurant opening soon.

There is also 1,950 square metres of retail space available at Park Place. 

Which projects are currently ongoing?

Transport improvements 

Improvements to the railway station are continuing, with a new multi-storey car park under construction.

There will be 622 car parking spaces – compared to the 339 spaces available on the site before redevelopment – of which 25 per cent will have electric charging capabilities.

A further 50 per cent could be upgraded to electric charging at a later date. The car park will also include secure storage for more than 80 bicycles.

The cladding on the building is designed to be Stevenage-related and will feature the town’s motto ‘the heart of a town lies in its people’. The car park is expected to be completed in 2023. 

The Comet: An artist's impression of what the new multi-storey car park at the railway station may look likeAn artist's impression of what the new multi-storey car park at the railway station may look like (Image: Stevenage Borough Council)

The new car park is part of the ‘Station Gateway’ project seeking to improve first impressions of Stevenage for people arriving by train.

The enabling works for this project are expected to cost £15.5m, including £6.5m from the Towns Fund, £5m from Stevenage Borough Council, and £4m of other public sector investment.

Millions of pounds of private investment is expected to be leveraged for the overall project. 

New commercial and office space 

Currently under construction is a £65m laboratory on Marshgate, off St George’s Way, where a car park used to be.

The Comet: An artist's impression of the new Autolus buildingAn artist's impression of the new Autolus building (Image: Stevenage Borough Council)

This will be the European manufacturing headquarter of Autolus, a biopharmaceutical company, when completed in 2023, providing 400 jobs. It received £1.75m of Towns Fund funding.  

There is also space for a new restaurant off the town square, in the site previously occupied by McDonalds. 

Next week, we'll look at the projects that are coming in the future.