Stevenage 'desperately needs' redevelopment

INVESTMENT into the desperately needed redevelopment of Stevenage town centre has been halved. Money ploughed into the regeneration of Stevenage was set to total �500m, but plans submitted to Stevenage Borough Council this week outline an investment of

INVESTMENT into the "desperately needed" redevelopment of Stevenage town centre has been halved.

Money ploughed into the regeneration of Stevenage was set to total �500m, but plans submitted to Stevenage Borough Council this week outline an investment of just �250m.

Full details of the scaled back plans will be unveiled for the first time at a public exhibition tomorrow (Friday), but The Comet has learned the development will no longer be on two levels, with plans for lower ground floor shops scrapped.

Only about 120 of the 1,050 new homes outlined in the original planning application submitted in November 2007 will be built. As a result The Towers will no longer be demolished.

A spokesman for developers Stevenage Regeneration Ltd - made up of ING Real Estate Development UK Ltd and Stanhope plc - said: "Additional public spaces are another change to the original plans.

"The idea is to create a pedestrian circuit, and we have added a few new spaces on this circuit. We don't want it to be closed in."

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Plans have been retained for a department store, hotel, cinema, restaurants and cafes.

The layout will incorporate new streets and upgraded cycle routes, and a new bus station between the town centre and train station will be built.

Tracey Parry, Stevenage town centre manager, said: "I do think, considering the current economic climate, its quite sensible downsizing.

"I think for indoor shopping malls the below ground level can work, but for outdoor shopping centres ground level probably works better anyway.

"The most important thing is the department store, encouraging more people to come into Stevenage.

"I would rather see a �250m investment in the town than no investment at all, as long as Stevenage gets the scheme it so desperately needs.

"If this means we can now go forward with the development this can only be a good thing."

A public exhibition will be held at the Stevenage Regeneration offices in Town Square between 12.30pm and 7pm on Friday and between 10am and 4pm on Saturday.

To comment on the plans, write to Head of Planning and Regeneration, Stevenage Borough Council, Daneshill House, Danestrete, Stevenage, SG1 1HN.

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