The Government has announced £19 million funding to help drive forward the regeneration of Stevenage town centre, but rejected the current plans and demanded Stevenage First be abolished. A new organisation will replace Stevenage First, which has failed to regenerate our town centre, Stevenage train station will not be moved and the money cannot be used to close Lytton Way.
Stephen McPartland, Member of Parliament for Stevenage, said, “I love Stevenage, but its town centre is not fit for purpose. It needs regenerating and bringing forward into the 21st century, and it needs to reflect the growing aspirations of the people who live here, but do not shop here. However, the latest regeneration plan was painful to read, totally undeliverable and a billion-pound joke on local people. The ridiculous proposal included moving the existing railway station, relied on by 35,000 commuters a day, closing Lytton Way, demolishing the Gordon Craig theatre and building 1,300 flats on the leisure park to wipe out our community facilities.
“The plans fail to regenerate the town centre, as they do not include the shops in Queensway, which they claim is a Conservation Area! I explained to Government, that we cannot support any regeneration scheme that does not include our shops and threatens to destroy the local economy by moving the train station. I am delighted that after intensive discussions with Ministers, Stevenage First will be abolished and a new organisation is to be tasked with the regeneration of our town centre. This is backed by almost £20 million of Government funding and I will take a role in it. This is on top of the £12 million the Government provided for land acquisition in Stevenage town centre in 2011.
"I have spoken to developers, financiers, chief executives and chairmen of leading retailers, and they all tell me the exact same simple facts of regeneration. We have to increase customer footfall and the dwell time of shoppers before they will come, and the quickest way to do that is with an element of free parking. Stevenage Borough Council must now discuss giving up its addiction to the £3.5 million it receives in car parking charges, which blocks every regeneration attempt.”
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