MP and borough council at loggerheads over Stevenage town centre facelift bid
- Credit: Archant
Questions have been raised about the viability of radical plans to transform Stevenage town centre, as revealed in last week’s Comet.
The plans to completely transform the town centre into a vibrant place to live and work were officially put before the public at a launch event in the town centre on Friday.
But by then MP Stephen McPartland had already come out strongly against the ‘Stevenage Central’ scheme proposed by the Stevenage First consortium.
He called for a new Stevenage Development Corporation – along the lines of the powerful body set up in 1946 to build the new town.
And he warned that the involvement of Network Rail, which owns the railway station which is at the heart of the revamp, will greatly delay any work.
He added: “The framework is not a regeneration plan, it is not an investment vehicle, it has not been costed, it has no access to funding and does not have my support.
“In fact, it is a barrier to any future regeneration of the town centre.”
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Stevenage First is a partnership which includes Stevenage Borough Council, Herts County Council, Herts Local Enterprise Partnership, the Highways Agency, Herts Chamber of Commerce and the Stevenage Town Centre Management Company.
The outline plans which have been put on the table would split the town centre into six zones, which would include shops, restaurants, the borough council front offices, a library, a primary school, public space and other facilities all being included.
The scheme also allows for far more homes in the town centre itself, to encourage more footfall and a better nightlife.
Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor said they would be happy to work with a development corporation if the government sets one up, and are working closely with Network Rail to bring about the improvements.
She added: “I hope Stephen will get involved in this important project for the future of the town.
“This is not about party politics. It is about developing the town centre not just for people from Stevenage but for people living in the wider area as well.”
A spokesman for Network Rail said they recognise that the station is key to the regeneration of the area and are working closely with Stevenage First to bring it about.