Council seeks to demolish Stevenage homes and community centre for contentious new build
- Credit: Supplied by Stevenage Borough Co
Approval is being sought for the demolition of dozens of council houses, a community centre and four independent businesses to make way for a controversial development.
Stevenage Borough Council plans to overhaul the Kenilworth Close area of town with a £40 million development of 236 homes and four retail units, despite dozens of objections outlining concerns about the height of the proposed buildings and associated privacy issues, inadequate parking and increased traffic.
With planning permission already granted, the council is now seeking approval for the demolition of the community centre and council homes, including Asquith Court in Stirling Close.
The council is also asking its own planning committee for permission to demolish four retail units - Stevenage Fish Bar, K Express convenience store, Bragbury End News and Knebworth Physiotherapy Centre.
One resident said: "We have lived here for 32 years. Bragbury End has always been a more rural setting. If the council gets its way we shall see a grievous and tragic mistake unfold. We don't wish to live somewhere that resembles Canary Wharf. We're moving."
Another resident said: "Stevenage Borough Council's core values will destroy the town - more flats, more overcrowding, less parking and less facilities."
But there is some support for the plans. One resident said: "It will provide new facilities and be better than it was before. Things need to move forward."
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The new development will include a mix of houses for sale, affordable rent and social rent.
Councillor Jeannette Thomas, executive member for housing, said: "Initial preparatory work has already begun and building work can hopefully commence early in 2020.
"It will be a four-year project completed in two-year phases. Phase one will see the creation of 176 new homes plus retail premises, with another 60 homes built in phase two.
"Regular attendance at residents' meetings has made us aware of certain concerns and we will continue to try to minimise the inevitable disruption as best we can. Ongoing communication will be maintained with the community over the duration of the build.
"We appreciate it will be a time of upheaval for those living in the area and we will continue to listen and work with residents to try to find solutions to any difficulties as and when they arise."