Council's bid to block �250m stevenage town centre redevelopment
PLANS for the �250m redevelopment of Stevenage town centre are being opposed by a neighbouring council. Welwyn Hatfield Council is concerned the major revamp will destroy commerce in Welwyn Garden City and scupper plans to regenerate Hatfield. Council pla
PLANS for the �250m redevelopment of Stevenage town centre are being opposed by a neighbouring council.
Welwyn Hatfield Council is concerned the major revamp will destroy commerce in Welwyn Garden City and scupper plans to regenerate Hatfield.
Council planning officers also argue that the regeneration project breaks town planning regulations due to the fact it will triple the town's retail space, making it one of the biggest towns in the east of England.
The council has prepared representations to the proposals, which were set to be discussed after The Comet went to press last night (Wednesday) at a meeting of the cabinet planning and transportation panel.
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The representations read: "This council is concerned that investment would be diverted away from Welwyn Garden City as a consequence (of the expansion).
"Hatfield town centre is also in decline and in need of regeneration. It is possible that the provision...on this scale, with the associated trade diversion, will make it even harder for a scheme at Hatfield to go ahead."
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The objections state that the expansion contravenes the East of England Plan, which says major new retail development should be consistent in scale with the size and character of the town centre and its role in the regional structure.
Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: "What a disappointment.
"Once again we have Conservative councillors blocking the redevelopment.
"Obviously our officers will look very carefully at the objections raised by Welwyn Hatfield Council, but it's important to note that the scheme has been reduced in scale, and when the bigger scheme was submitted neither the East of England Regional Assembly nor the East of England Development Agency objected." Both bodies are responsible for developing the East of England Plan.
She added: "Stevenage is a larger town than Welwyn Garden City so we need a decent shopping centre.
"Stevenage is underprovided for in terms of quality and quantity of shopping. "We have leaked a bit of shopping to Welwyn Garden City because of our lack of a department store, so we may claw that back.
"I think Hatfield does need some regeneration, but so does Stevenage. I think it's perfectly possible for both to go ahead."
A spokesman for the developers behind the Stevenage town centre redevelopment, Stevenage Regeneration Ltd - made up of ING Real Estate Development UK Ltd and Stanhope plc - said: "On this occasion we would prefer not to comment.