Agenda and minutes

Stevenage Development Board (formerly Stevenage Town Fund Board) - Thursday, 13 May 2021 2.30pm

Venue: Virtual (via Zoom)

Contact: Ian Gourlay (01438) 242703  Email:

No. Item




The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, including those who were attending their first meeting of the Board.  He updated the Board on a number of things that had happened since the last meeting, including:


·        Borough Councillor John Gardner had suffered a heavy fall, resulting in his hospitalisation.  The Board supported the Chair in wishing Councillor Gardner a speedy recovery;


·        County Councillor David Williams had unfortunately lost his seat at the recent County Council Elections and would no longer be a member of the Board.  On behalf of the Board, the Chair had passed on his commiserations to David and had thanked him for his excellent input into the Board’s work and in support of Stevenage over the past few years;


·        Malcolm Evely (Airbus) had recently retired from work.  The Chair thanked him for his support for the Board and wished him well in his retirement; and


·        Neville Reyner (Groundwork East) had resigned from the Board and had moved to Lincolnshire.




The Board was advised that apologies for absence had been received from the following:


Borough Councillor John Gardner

Stephen Ward (Catapult) – Zahid Latif and Kasia Averall substituting

Charlotte Blizzard-Welch and Alice Loukiades (Citizens Advice Bureau)

Norman Jennings (Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership)

Charles Amies (Homes England)

Sarah McLaughlin (Hertfordshire County Council) – Colin Haigh substituting

Sarah Brierley and Mary Hartley (East & North Herts Health Trust) – George Stephens substituting

Duncan Parsley (GlaxoSmithKline)




It was RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Stevenage Development Board held on 16 March 2021 be approved as a correct record.




The Board received the latest conflicts of interest list, and was advised that the list would be updated to reflect the fact that former County Councillor David Williams was no longer a member of the Board.




Chris Barnes (SBC Assistant Director: Regeneration) gave a slide presentation regarding the pipeline for the submission to the Government of Business Plans for projects included in Stevenage’s Town Investment Plan (TIP).


Chris advised that key work streams had been established, in order to prepare for Business Case delivery, including a delivery plan, governance, engagement plan and financial planning.  The completion of these activities over the coming 4 weeks would form the full programme delivery plan for the next 12 months.


Chris stated that, in terms of Business Case (BC) preparation, the Town Deal Heads of Terms had been returned to the Government.  A number of other steps were also reported to be in place: a draft governance paper had been prepared setting out the development and review process for business cases, including further engagement with the Government’s Town Deal support team; professional support had been commissioned for the production of business cases; a number of the fast track projects were moving towards the drafting stage; additional resources had been secured to increase capacity to work on business cases and to prepare for implementation; initial meetings had been held with the Theme Group leads from within the Development Board; and work was progressing on the finalisation of the delivery plan and timescales.


Chris explained that the Board would play a key role in supporting the journey from concepts to projects (and on to delivery) by leading on aspects of projects; providing assurance and guidance; providing direction and input through engagement with the four Theme Groups and in sponsoring projects; and co-ordinating communications, supporting campaigns and championing the Stevenage Town Investment Plan.


Chris commented that, following the issue of the Town Deal Heads of Terms, the Stevenage Development Board Chair and the Council as “Accountable Body” must sign and submit a 2 month return by 23 May 2021, including the allocation of monies across the projects; financial profiling for the next 5 years; and a summary showing the anticipated outputs for the projects.


Chris advised that it was proposed that the following key principles would be followed:


·        Retain all of the projects in the shortlist of the Investment Plan and publicly commit to delivering what the Board had set out to deliver, making the funding work as hard as possible to maximise the investment.

·        Remove the digital project (£150,000) as a standalone item, and include it in the GWR or Gateway as a wider connectivity piece, which meant it could be delivered much quicker, as it would not achieve direct outputs; and

·        Reduce formal outputs with the Government where projects were utilising less grant funding – these should be viewed as “minimum” baseline requirements and the Board would seek to achieve beyond these baseline requirements.


In terms of adjustments to mitigate the funding gap between the Town Deal Funding and the overall estimated cost of schemes, Chris proposed the following approach:


·        Less funding for Station Gateway – working on the preparation phases to enable land release for example by provision of a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.




Chris Barnes (SBC Assistant Director: Regeneration) gave a slide presentation in respect of the Government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF).


Chris began by explaining that the Levelling Up Fund was a £4.8Bn Government fund for high level local infrastructure, with places being categorised by need (Stevenage was in Category 3 – lowest need).  The guidance and assessment principles had been published, based on the three themes of Transport (bids of £20M - £50M), Regeneration (bids of up to £20M) and Cultural (bids of up to £20M).


Chris was requesting the endorsement of the Board for a bid to be submitted, to build on the economic analysis, vision and strategy presented in the Stevenage Town Investment Plan (TIP).  The deadline for Round 1 bids was 18 June 2021.


Chris advised that the proposal was to submit a package of 3 bids, expanding on the TIP submission, based on an assessment of deliverability; alignment with the guidance and priorities of the LUF; the ability to start spending money in 2021/22; and added value – delivering more outputs and outcomes than the Town Fund submission.  The package would highlight a renewed focus on recovery from the Covid pandemic, in terms of the impact on the way transport was used, public spaces, town centres, ways of working and changing trends in employment.  Other area would include delivering health and wellbeing, sustainability, town centre regeneration and job creation.


Chris explained that the package of 3 bids would focus on urban connectivity; “Healthy Hub” leisure and wellbeing; and unlocking sustainable employment. He presented slides outlining examples of what could be included in each of these bids for Stevenage.


During the debate, the following points were made:


·        Patsy Dell (Hertfordshire Growth Board) welcomed the focus on unlocking sustainable employment, which was so important to the work of the Hertfordshire Growth Board.  She suggested that the bid should focus on the importance of the STEM/Gene cluster element within the package as a whole;

·        Borough Councillor Sharon Taylor asked for the bids to pay due cognisance to levelling up in relation to the skills and employment agenda for young people, as well as levelling up for healthy lifestyles by mentioning the Stevenage Young People’s Healthy Hub;

·        Martha Lytton Cobbold (Knebworth House) was pleased to see the cultural sector represented, and requested that consideration be given to the provision of more community use spaces in the Healthy Hub, and to apply for further financial support for Stevenage Museum, including outreach work and the digitising of archives;

·        Sally Ann Forsyth (Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst) was delighted to report that an independent economic impact assessment relating to the Gunnelswood gyratory road system had recently been published.  The cost benefit analysis had concluded that works to improve the gyratory were viable.  She had been involved in a number of meetings with BEIS representatives, in order to emphasise the importance of these highway improvements on the adjacent STEM/Gene cluster, and she would shortly be writing to the Secretary of State for Transport about the matter;  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.




Tom Pike (Strategic Director, Stevenage Borough Council) provided an introduction to the Stevenage Connection Gateway Area Action Plan (aimed at enhancing the area around the Stevenage Railway Station). He commented that the Stevenage Local Plan identified the area as a major opportunity area, which could accommodate uses such as an extended and regenerated train station; a new bus station; residential homes; multi-story parking; offices uses; commercial uses; and restaurants and cafes.


Tom commented that the Stevenage gateway area of Stevenage was a key for economic competiveness, and a number of local businesses had identified this as a key front door for their business and future growth.


Tom advised that the Council had prepared an Options and Issues report on the Area Action Plan (AAP), which had been circulated to Board Members.  This was the first stage of development of the AAP, which would be open for public consultation shortly.  This would be followed by a further stage of consultation, anticipated to take place in late 2021.  A number of relevant bodies would be invited to submit representations on the document, including Hertfordshire County Council (Highways), Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Network Rail, Govia Thameslink Railway, Mace (SG1 partner) and Legal & General (landowners to the west of the station).


Lewis Claridge (SBC Planning Policy Manager) gave a slide presentation on the detail of the AAP, including the enabling framework, the key design principles for enhancing the area, and the proposed core enhancements.


At the suggestion of Hetty Thornton (Historic England - HE), Lewis undertook to contact HE’s Historic Places Advisor to discuss the heritage issues and links relating to the project.  In a similar vein, Martha Lytton Cobbold (Knebworth House) commented that the project should be aligned with any proposals for a future cultural, arts and heritage trail across the town.


In response to a question from Kit Davies (North Herts College) regarding how the potential revised highway layout would link up with other parts of the town, Lewis commented that this would be considered as part of a separate piece of work to be carried out jointly with Hertfordshire County Council Highways.




The Chair presented the first financial report to the Board, and commented that Stevenage Borough Council’s Finance Team, led by Clare Fletcher (SBC Strategic Director), would henceforth be responsible for providing the Board with regular financial reports.




Chris Barnes (SBC Assistant Director: Regeneration) gave a slide presentation updating the Board on the Stevenage Regeneration Programme.  He advised that physical delivery was progressing well on all sites.  In respect of Queensway North, lease completions were underway and multiple fit-out works were taking place on site.  There had been significant interest in the new residential units.  Enabling works on the Matalan site were due to commence in the summer.  The Board noted a number of photographs showing progress on a number of the projects.




(1)       University of Hertfordshire – Institute of Technology application


Julie Newlan (University of Hertfordshire) advised that the University was in the process of a Stage 2 application for Institute of Technology (IoT) status.  This application needed to be supported by local large businesses being represented on the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that would be established to oversee the IoT process.  Julie will be writing to such businesses, in the near future to ask for representatives to serve on the SPV.


Keith Ellis commented that Airbus are very keen on STEM activities/ delivery and would be pleased to support the IoT application.


(2)       STEM Discovery Centre


The Chair invited comments from Board Members in respect of the STEM Discovery Centre offer, noting its positive contribution and opportunities it created for local young people, and the need for a post-pandemic business plan to support the vital STEM agenda in Stevenage.




To be advised.