Vital funds secured for Stevenage town centre regeneration but £30 million station redevelopment is blocked
PUBLISHED: 16:28 02 February 2017 | UPDATED: 16:28 02 February 2017
The project to regenerate Stevenage town centre has been given a 19 million boost in funding – but the town has missed out on the extra £30 million bid for to rebuild its railway station.
Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership announced today it has secured £44m in funds from the government as part of the Growth Deal 3 initiative which makes cash available for local regeneration schemes – £19m of this will go towards the first stage of regenerating Stevenage town centre.
But the LEP had bid for £49.5m to relocate and rebuild the railway station which the government has decided should not be granted.
It’s bid for funding submitted last year outlined ‘a major project to construct a new railway station in Stevenage town centre, to replace the existing outdated and inadequate station’.
The plan was a key part of the Stevenage First partnership’s plan to regenerate the town centre around a new transport hub which would have involved closing Lytton Way, but will not now go ahead.
Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland had vocally opposed the station regeneration plans on the grounds they would cause too much disruption.
As the Growth Deal funding supports the completion of initiatives before 2021, Stevenage First said its ‘ambitious plans’ for regenerating Stevenage railway station ‘will take longer than the timescale allows’.
Andrew Percival – chair of Stevenage First, the public-private sector partnership set up to regenerate Stevenage town centre – said the cash will be used to help unlock investment to deliver 800 homes, new retail units around a revitalised town centre square and a new civic hub, with a library, health facilities and council offices.
He said the first phase of regeneration is already scoped and ready to take to the market in April 2017.
He added that investment will be made to improve transport links with the town centre, including car parking facilities and the creation of development opportunities between Town Square and Lytton Way.
The former Marks & Spencer site and the Marshgate area behind it will also be readied for development.
Mr Percival said: “This investment will accelerate our drive forward with our bold regeneration plans which will have tangible benefits for residents, businesses and visitors.
“Over the next five years this includes a greatly enhanced Town Square with diverse retail and restaurants, leisure facilities and public spaces as well as 1,100 new homes in the town centre. A more vibrant town centre will also help to attract modern retailers and create a greater sense of place.”
Of the lost station funding, he added: “While we are disappointed that the government did not feel it could support the train station redevelopment at this time, we welcome the significant funding that has been secured which will act as a catalyst for further town centre regeneration and deliver real results for its residents and businesses.”
Councillor Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council and Stevenage First board member, said: “These funds will play a vital role in establishing the development partnership we need to progress our plans for regenerating the town centre so that it reflects the aspirations of the people of Stevenage.
“Our residents, visitors and business community will reap the benefits of a new and vibrant town centre for many, many years to come.
“We are very grateful to Hertfordshire LEP for their substantial role in securing the funding for our ambitious regeneration programme.”
Councillor Derrick Ashley, Hertfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for the environment, planning and transport and Stevenage First board member, said: “The regeneration of Stevenage is good news for the town and good news for Hertfordshire. As the strategic transport authority, HCC will press for better local and more long distance train services for Stevenage to make the most of its great location.
“It is widely recognised that Stevenage station needs improving as a gateway to the town and this part of Hertfordshire and we will continue to work with partners to deliver an improved station and travelling experience for visitors and residents.”
Overall Herts LEP secured £43.95m, almost half of which will be spent on Stevenage and half on other projects across the county – including £5.1m to support the second phase of development at West Herts College’s Dacorum campus in Hemel Hempstead and the creation of a new innovation hub in West Herts, which will provide vital incubation space for start-up businesses.
The latest announcement means the county has received £265.45m in growth deal funding from the government since 2014.