What's happening with the Stevenage town centre regeneration?

This is the third 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 in the last article, we wrote about the elements of the regeneration that have already been completed and that are happening right now.

We've also asked you to tell us what you think about the regeneration so far.

This week, we'll be going into detail about the parts of the regeneration project that still lie in the future.

Which projects lie in the future? 

Improved local services and leisure venues 

Some of the biggest public projects in the regeneration focus on improving the local services and leisure venues that are on offer.

The Comet: An artist's impression of the new civic hubAn artist's impression of the new civic hub (Image: StevenageEvenBetter/Stevenage Borough Council)

Part of the SG1 project, a new civic hub will be built next to Primark on the town square, including space for health, voluntary, council and charity services. It will also contain a library, café, council offices, and the new £2.9m National New Towns Heritage Centre. The cost of building the Centre is yet to be confirmed, but it has received £2m of Towns Fund money and £936,636 from SBC. 

On St George’s Way, roughly where the swimming pool currently stands, will be a new £44.2m sports and leisure hub, part-funded by the Towns Fund.

This will include a 10-lane swimming pool and a teaching pool with more than 300 spectator seats between them, a 200-station gym and spa, a splash zone, three squash courts, an eight-court sports hall and a soft play area.

The hub will be funded with £10m from the Towns Fund, £5m of other public sector funding, and the rest yet to be found. 

There will also be a new primary school as part of the SG1 development. This will be situated on the site of Southgate car park, near the fire station. 

Another education facility will be Stevenage Innovation and Technology Centre, to be run by North Herts College. The objective is to improve the skills of residents by providing Level 3, 4 and 5 courses in specialisms such as engineering, life sciences, biotechnology, and advanced construction skills. A precise location for the centre has not yet been decided, though it will be in the town centre. 

A first phase is being hosted by NHC, with £3m in funding provided by Herts Local Enterprise Partnership. £5m in Towns Fund money has been allocated for the future phase in the town centre, with a further £2m expected from the private sector. 

Longer term, the Local Plan sets out proposals for the construction of a new theatre in the town. 

New housing 

The Comet: Bird’s eye view of proposed development on former Matalan site, with Lytton Way in the foreground and intended SG1 masterplan in backgroundBird’s eye view of proposed development on former Matalan site, with Lytton Way in the foreground and intended SG1 masterplan in background (Image: Guinness Partnership)

More flats are on their way. This includes 526 1 and 2-bedroom apartments on the former Matalan site, which were granted planning permission last year. Also coming, as part of SG1, are 1,867 properties to be built in locations including Southgate Park (near the current library), Swingate and Danestrete (the road to the former bus station). 

New commercial and office space 

Stevenage Enterprise Centre will be built on a site yet to be determined. It is estimated to cost £12m, and has been allocated £4m of Towns Fund money. It is expected that it will receive a further £1m of public sector funding and £7.7m of private sector investment. The centre will provide 43,945 square feet of space for co-working, laboratories and more.

The Comet: Part of the landscape drawing that was submitted as part of the planning application for the ForumPart of the landscape drawing that was submitted as part of the planning application for the Forum (Image: Camlins)

The Forum redevelopment, which is awaiting planning permission, will cost £120m and provide four specialist biopharmaceutical laboratories, a teaching laboratory, and 45,000 square feet of retail space across five to seven units, including room for a boutique cinema and large pub or restaurant. The site as a whole will provide 1,850 jobs on an ongoing basis and £98m GVA to the local economy per year. 

The former Matalan site will host 779 square metres of commercial space, in addition to the flats that will be built there. 

There will also be a new boulevard running from the bus interchange to the town square as part of the SG1 project. Along the boulevard will be new buildings combining ground floor retail space with flats above them. 

Improved public spaces 

Brand new Southgate Park will be situated on the edge of the town centre, close to the dual carriageway dividing Asda from the town centre. The Forum redevelopment will also include a new green landscape square including play street furniture.

The Comet: A CGI image of Southgate ParkA CGI image of Southgate Park (Image: Mace)

The space currently occupied by Event Island will become a Garden Square, with £3.75m from the Towns Fund contributing to town centre diversification and the square itself. The square will include eating and drinking companies in the vicinity, to encourage outdoor dining. 

Transport improvements 

The Forum redevelopment will include a new multi-storey car par, with room for 315 parking spaces – almost exactly the same capacity as the current car park. This will include 63 spaces with electric charging points. There will also be new pedestrian and cyclist connections to the old town and the planned sports and leisure hub. 

Separately, a Cycling and Pedestrian Connectivity & Arts and Heritage Trail project will be undertaken. This will bring new cycle storage, and improved lighting, CCTV, landscaping and underpasses. Costs are estimated to be £7m, including a £3.5m allocation from the Towns Fund, £3m of other public sector funding, and £500k from SBC.  

Radical changes have also been proposed to the roads in the area – according to the Local Plan that was adopted by SBC in 2019, this will include “the closure and removal of Lytton Way [which runs between the railway station and the Gordon Craig Theatre] as a through route for traffic”.

Next week, we'll be speaking to council leader Baroness Taylor about the regeneration project.