‘Stevenage town centre regeneration still on track’ despite financial crisis
PUBLISHED: 13:45 29 May 2020 | UPDATED: 13:55 29 May 2020
The £1 billion regeneration of Stevenage town centre is still on track, it has been confirmed, despite the borough council behind the plans facing financial crisis.
Councillor Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, has warned that job losses and cuts to essential services may be necessary if central government does not provide additional funding to support the local authority through the coronavirus pandemic.
She says SBC has suffered £4.5 million in lost income due to the pandemic, but this could rise to £8 million by the end of the year.
Only £917,000 has so far been provided by central government. The Comet has repeatedly asked Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland if he intends to support the council by lobbying the government to secure additional financial support, but he has not responded.
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The borough council is considering issuing a Section 114 notice – an emergency measure banning all new expenditure, with the exception of safeguarding vulnerable people.
It means the council no longer has the resources to meet its expenditure, and is understood to have only ever been issued once in England – by Northamptonshire County Council in 2018.
However, SBC says plans for the 20-year £1 billion regeneration of Stevenage town centre are still on track, with the likes of construction company Mace already invested.
A spokesman said: “There have been no changes to the regeneration programme, and the work to transform our town centre is continuing. Together with our partners we are committed to delivering a revitalised town centre for the future.”
The plans include new shops, bars and restaurants, an expanded railway station, public services hub, more than 7,000 new properties, and new sports and leisure facilities.
While these plans may still be on track, there is a history of Stevenage regeneration plans being derailed due to financial problems. Multi-million pound plans to redevelop the town centre were scrapped owing to the financial crisis of 2007–08 and the lack of interested private sector partners, and in 2012 a £250m scheme for the shopping area was pulled by Stevenage Regeneration Limited because of adverse economic conditions.
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