The submission follows several months of consultation with local people and businesses during 2019 to capture views on how the town should be revived. The planning application proposal, known as SG1, seeks to transform a significant portion of the town centre, complementing the new developments across the town that are already underway at the north end of Queensway and on the Town Square.
Inspired by the original building blocks and the unique heritage of the New Town, SG1 will eventually provide more than 1,800 high-quality new homes, 3,500 sqm of retail and commercial floor space, a new public square and a new park, as well as a Public Services Hub and a new primary school.
Kevin Cowin, Director at Mace, said: “This is an ambitious and carefully crafted proposal that expresses our confidence in Stevenage town centre. We aim to revitalise the town centre by introducing new homes, vibrant activities, community facilities and inviting public spaces. Our vision is to deliver a thriving, successful and attractive heart to Stevenage which will serve the needs of local people and businesses for decades to come.”
The planning submission provides an outline proposal for the 14.5 acre masterplan which is divided into 10 development plots. It also contains a detailed application for the first two plots in the first phase which includes the area of Swingate South Car Park and Swingate House, as well as the former police building on Southgate. The first phase proposes 760 new homes in the town centre. Future phases will add new retail and commercial floor space in addition to further new homes.
At the centre of the masterplan fronting onto the Town Square will be a new Public Services Hub for the people of Stevenage. The Hub will be the focal point for a wide range of public services, including NHS health facilities, a new public library, the voluntary sector and Council services.
The creation of new green spaces and tree planting is a central theme for the masterplan proposals. There will be increased biodiversity and new planting in an attractive new Garden Square adjacent to The Hub and the historic Town Square, a new public tree-lined boulevard, and a new park and pond at the new Southgate Park to the south of Queensway. A new mini square which will be known as ‘Arrival Square’ is also planned to greet visitors at the bottom of the access ramp to the railway station and welcome people to the town centre.
Kevin Cowin added, “During our consultation on the SG1 masterplan over the summer, one of the key things residents and town centre businesses told us was the importance of creating attractive welcoming public spaces where people can meet and relax. Our planning application responds to what local people have told us.”
Mace is also managing the delivery of improvements to the existing historic Town Square, which is on-site at the moment with Ashe Construction. Work is underway to transform and modernise the northern edge of the Square, bringing new places to eat and drink, flexible work space and conference facilities.
Improvements also include new high quality stone paving across the Square, attractive new large-format seating, removal of clutter in the space to improve usability of the space for outdoor events and improve accessibility around the Square, as well as new free-standing lighting inspired by early post-war New Town planning. These works will be carried out in phases to maintain pedestrian routes at all times across the Square and access to the shops.