Council defers decision on high-rise flats planned for former Stevenage BHS site

Plans for an 11-storey residential block on the site of the former BHS store in Stevenage Town Centre have been submitted.

Plans for an 11-storey residential block on the site of the former BHS store in Stevenage Town Centre have been submitted. Picture: Urbana Town Planning - Credit: Archant

A decision by Stevenage Borough Council on whether or not to allow permission for an 11-storey block of flats in the centre of Stevenage has been delayed.

Yesterday at a meeting of the council’s planning committee, councillors deferred a decision on plans for the high rise flats at the former BHS site in The Forum.

The proposals would involve the partial demolition of the former store, in The Forum, and a high-rise development of 250 one and two-bedroom flats.

On the ground floor there would be a commercial unit, that would be much smaller than the former BHS store.

There would be parking to the rear of the ground floor of the block – which sits just 100m from a bus stop and 500m from the railway station.

That would include 274 spaces for standard bicycles and 15 spaces for cars, and those residents with cars would not be eligible for street parking permits.

After raising a number of questions – relating to the block’s appearance and design, the contribution needed towards NHS provision, and allocation of affordable housing – they decided to defer the decision to a further meeting.

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During the debate Cllr Graham Snell highlighted the high number of developments that were in the pipeline for the town – and questioned whether there was still a market for them.

This proposed development would include 129 one-beds, 120 two-beds and one studio flats – as well as some amenity space that would sit between two blocks.

In addition to 15 car parking spaces, six motorcycle spaces, two delivery bays and 274 cycle spaces, there would be additional spaces for e-scooters and non-standard cycle spaces. All parking bays, it was said, would be fitted with electric vehicle charging points.

During the public consultation there were two responses in favour of the plans and three against.

Those opposed pointed to the possibility of short-term lets such as AirBnB and the use of the commercial space as a late night bar or club.

There were also concerns about the height of the development, the impact on daylight in public areas and the suggestion that the town does not need more high-rise developments.

There were concerns raised about the “insufficient” amount of parking, as well as the impact it would have on infrastructure such as doctors’ surgeries, schools and roads.