Labour party members and the public will recall that the most recent Local Plan for Stevenage was submitted to the government for approval in July 2016. The Local Plan had been subject of extensive consultation with Stevenage residents, other local Councils and public bodies and landholders to form a sensible plan to bring forward the further regeneration of the town centre, much needed housing including social and affordable homes, and space for businesses to grow. This Plan was subject to a public and fully independent examination at the start of 2017 and the government’s appointed Inspector found it to be sound, commending several aspects of the Local Plan.
Regrettably, at the request of the Conservative MP for Stevenage, the former Secretary of State put in place a holding direction on the Local Plan in November 2017 preventing the adoption of the Plan for now. Borough Council Officers have worked efficiently and professionally with civil servants to provide information as they consider matters. However, this holding direction continues be in effect and is inhibiting the growth and improvement in the town, despite the government Inspector finding the plan to be sound nearly a year ago.
Stevenage Constituency Labour Party supports the efforts of the Borough Council and reiterates the councils doubts about the legitimacy of the continued holding direction, urging this to be lifted. We expect the current secretary of state to overturn the obstruction created by our MP and to lift the holding direction so preventing delay and allowing our councillors to get on with the job of providing new homes, jobs and regeneration.
Ongoing Town Centre Regeneration
On a happier note, we note that work already committed to has brought improvements to Market Place including new high quality outdoor space, a play trail for children, and new features for residents to enjoy. This is the latest instalment of improvements in the town, following the upgrade of Forum and Littlewood Squares last year.
The refurbishment of the town’s iconic Town Square fountain and pool, which was first built alongside the clock tower in 1958, has been completed and options and ideas to improve the Town Square using both funding from Hertfordshire LEP and the councils capital programme are under investigation. Later in the year there will be further progress of the private regeneration scheme at Park Place, where the southern block is now entering its later stages of development and work will commence to create outside spaces for shoppers and residents to enjoy.