Agenda and minutes

Stevenage Development Board (formerly Stevenage Town Fund Board) - Thursday, 14 October 2021 2.30pm

Venue: Virtual (via Zoom)

Contact: Ian Gourlay (01438) 242703  Email:

No. Item




The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.  He briefly reflected on the work on the Board since its inception 18 months or so ago, including the excellent work carried out in the preparation of the Town Investment Plan (TIP) and the subsequent Government award of £37.5M of Town Deal funding to Stevenage.  He thanked and congratulated Board Members for their contributions and support over the past 18 months.


The Chair stated that, later in the meeting, the Board would be considering the first two of the nine Business Cases for the projects contained in the TIP.  It was envisaged that this and the next three Board meetings would consider 2/3 Business Cases, leading up to the Government’s final submission deadline date in March 2022.




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


Martha Lytton Cobbold (Knebworth House)

Sarah McLaughlin (Hertfordshire County Council)

Stephen Ward (Catapult)

Kasia Averall (Catapult)

Greg Westover (Legal & General)

Charles Amies (Homes England)

Keith Ellis (Airbus)

Hetty Thornton (Historic England)

Duncan Parsley (GlaxoSmithKline)




It was RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Stevenage Development Board held on 29 July 2021 be approved as a correct record.




The Board received the latest conflicts of interest list.




(1)       Reef update


The Board Chair welcomed Piers Slater from Reef and invited him to give a presentation on the work of Reef in Stevenage.


Piers advised that Reef had been active in Stevenage for four years, developing the Queensway North scheme.  Nationally, Reef had provided £3Bn investment in development schemes, many of them working in partnership with local authorities.


Piers referred to Reef_KN, a knowledge fund set up with UBS to create links between people, skills, places and knowledge, particularly in the life sciences and digital sectors.  He the referred to Digital Reef, set up with partners ukcloud, to provide advice and support on digital requirements and solutions for the life sciences sector, particularly in the field of manufacturing.  He commented that Stevenage was perfectly located in the centre of the Cambridge-Oxford-London “Golden Triangle” for life sciences.


Piers drew attention to the activities of Reef in Stevenage, working closely with a variety of partners, including the Borough Council, LEP, North Herts College, Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, Catapult Cell & Gene Therapy, STEM Discovery Centre, University of Hertfordshire and Autolus.


Piers summarised the Queensway North project, which had provided new office, residential, gym and retail units in the town centre.  He also introduced plans for the Innovation Centre (one of the Town Investment Plan projects) and the Marshgate Bioscience building being developed for Autolus (another of the TIP projects).  In the future there was further scope for the potential development of other town centre sites for further life sciences facilities and offers such as office/collaborative buildings.


Matt Partridge (Chief Executive: Stevenage Borough Council) commented that it had been a pleasure to work with Piers and his Reef colleagues over the past few years, and that he was looking forward to continuing what had been a fruitful partnership.  Those sentiments were echoed by Borough Councillors Sharon Taylor and John Gardner, and they were pleased to note that a focus on climate change/carbon zero would be built into future developments.


Karen Hillen (BEIS) asked if a Government Ministerial visit could be arranged in connection with the Autolus building.  It was noted that the Chief Executive of Autolus was visiting the site in November 2021 to “launch” the building project.  The Board Chair stated that the site was currently a car park, and he felt that it might perhaps be more meaningful if the Ministerial visit coincided with the formal opening of the building once constructed.


The Chair thanked Piers for an excellent presentation.


(2)       Mace update


The Board Chair invited Kevin Cowan (Mace) to give a presentation on the work of Mace on the SG1 regeneration project in the town centre.


Kevin advised that the SG1 scheme was endeavouring to develop an attractive evening economy for the town centre, including an enhanced food and beverage offer, community space, office space and green areas, as well as high quality new build homes.  The intention would be for most of those occupying the residential units to work and socialise in the town.  SG1  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.




Chris Barnes (SBC Assistant Director: Regeneration) advised the Board of the review process for Town Deal Business Cases.  He commented that a full draft of each Business Case would be subject to an officer sift before being considered by an Assurance Panel, involving some Board Members.  The next stage would be submission to the Board and, subject to Board endorsement, the final stage would be approval by the Accountable Body (SBC).  Thereafter, the Business Case(s) would be submitted to the Government.


Chris stated that two summary Business Cases were before the Board for consideration.  Full versions of each Business Case were available on request.


(1)       Gunnels Wood Road Infrastructure Project


Chris commented that the Business Case was fully consistent with the initial proposal set out in the Stevenage Town Investment Plan (TIP).


Chris advised that the Business Case proposed the use of £1M of Towns Fund money to part-fund the delivery of stage 1 of the Gunnels Wood Road infrastructure project, the design and enabling works required as part of the gyratory roundabout works.  The project aligned with the ethos of the TIP, by utilising public funding to leverage private investment to make Stevenage Even Better, and importantly enhance the opportunities for local residents and businesses.


Chris explained that the works themselves related to an infrastructure project, land for redevelopment, delivering local economic growth and high-value jobs, and harnessing the opportunity to enhance skills, training and employment opportunities for the people of Stevenage.  The development of a life science park, as detailed at previous Board meetings and in the national press, would continue to solidify Stevenage as a leading centre for life sciences, as well as enabling other growth opportunities in the area.  This could only be achieved if the highway capacity and infrastructure challenges for Gunnels Wood Road were addressed.


Chris stated that the lead delivery partner for the project would be Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), supported by Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Stevenage Borough Council.  There was also a key role for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in relation to unlocking the outcomes of this project, and the assurance panel which had reviewed this business case, including the Chair and Chief Officers from the accountable body, HCC and the LEP, had recommended a condition to ensure secure allocation of the land prior to significant funding being spent.


Chris mentioned that there were some challenges around the insecurity of stage 2 funding - whilst it had been positive to see some positive partnership working between the Development Board, LEP, HCC and the Borough Council in relation to the Levelling-up fund, this money had not yet been secured.  However, part of the reason for including the project in the TIP, and funding stage 1, was that it would provide the strongest possible platform to subsequently secure the additional funding.  Notwithstanding this, the Business Case was strongly supported by the assurance panel, with a recommendation that the Development Board endorse the project.


The Board noted an issue raised by James Latham (Stevenage Bioscience  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.




The Chair announced that consideration of this update item would be deferred to the next Board meeting.




(1)       Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) Scheme


The Chair welcomed to the meeting Giles Perkins and Adam Molyneux from WSP UK Limited and Andrew Highfield (Hertfordshire County Council), who had been invited to the meeting to outline the ZEBRA Scheme.


Giles advised that WSP was working in association with HCC to submit a bid to the Department of Transport under the ZEBRA Scheme for the implementation of a zero emission (ie. electric) bus fleet for Stevenage.  This would be one of 18 such bids being submitted nationally.


Giles explained that he was keen for as many partners as possible to endorse the Stevenage bid.  If successful, the Government would fund 75% of the difference of the cost of replacing diesel buses with electric buses.  The remaining 25% would require funding from other sources.


Giles stated that an outline business case and bid was being developed for submission to the Government in November 2021.  The final submission was due for submission in January 2022.  He invited the Board and/or some of its constituent partners to support the bid.  Tom Pike (SBC Strategic Director) commented that the Borough Council had provided a letter of support to the bid at the Expressions of Interest Stage.


Giles undertook to provide further details of the proposed business case/bid to the Board Chair, who would circulate it to Board Members.


Borough Councillors Sharon Taylor and John Gardner were both delighted with the potential for an electric bus fleet in the town, which tied in perfectly with the Council’s Climate Change Strategy and aspirations.


The Board Chair took the opportunity to express his gratitude to Councillor Taylor for her support and foresight in progressing the multitude of schemes and projects happening around the town, which was an exciting place for ideas to form and develop.  He gave a big thank you to Councillor Taylor and the SBC Team in working towards a Stevenage Even Better.


(2)       National Infrastructure Commission Report


Kevin Cowan (Mace) was pleased to advise the Board that Stevenage had been recognised in the National Infrastructure Commission Report.



The following dates have been agreed for future meetings of the Board:


·        Thursday, 2 December 2021 – 10.00am

·        Thursday, 20 January 2022 – 10.00am

·        Thursday, 24 February 2022 – 10.00am


It was noted that future Board meetings would take place on the following dates:


·        Thursday, 2nd December 2021: 10.00am - 12.00pm

·        Thursday, 20th January 2022: 10.00am – 12.00pm

·        Thursday, 24th February 2022: 10.00am – 12.00pm


The Board Chair asked supporting officers to book a venue so that the next meeting in 2 December 2021 could be held as an in-person meeting.