Agenda and minutes

Stevenage Development Board (formerly Stevenage Town Fund Board) - Thursday, 1 December 2022 2.00pm

Venue: Virtual (via Zoom)

Contact: Ian Gourlay (0438) 242703  Email:

No. Item




Adrian Hawkins, the Board Chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting.  He particularly welcomed Rebecca Collings (Nicholls) and Dave Mudd (Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst) who were attending their first Board meetings.  Dave was replacing James Latham on the Board, and the Chair thanked James, who was attending his last meeting, for his contribution to the work of the Board over recent years and wished him well for the future.




The Board was advised that apologies for absence had been submitted by the following:


Baroness Taylor (Stevenage Borough Council)

Clare Fletcher (Stevenage Borough Council)

County Councillor Richard Roberts (Hertfordshire County Council)

Norman Jennings (Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership)

Briege Leahy (Herts Chamber of Commerce)

Stephen Ward (Catapult) – Kasia Averall substituting

Greg Westover (Legal & General)

Colin Haigh (Hertfordshire County Council)

Helen Tomlinson (DLUHC)

Steve Finlan (The Wine Society)

Keith Ellis (Airbus) – Karen Burness substituting

Sarah Brierley (Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust)

Julie Newlan (University of Hertfordshire)

Hetty Thornton (Historic England)




It was RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Stevenage Development Board held on 6 October 2022 be approved as a correct record.




The Board received the latest conflicts of interest list.




Dave Wells (SBC Assistant Director: Regeneration) updated the Board on the SBC Regeneration Programme as follows:


·         Event Island – three events had been held using the completed space, since the initial soft launch.  These were a Halloween event, the construction of a marquee holding a temporary ice rink (until 8 January 2023); and the Christmas Lights switch-on.  Officers were looking at establishing a programme of curated events for 2023, following significant interest from local community groups;


·         Visitor Insights – this piece of software was to be used by the Regeneration Team and provided 5 years’ worth of qeo-location data sourced from mobile phones regarding footfall of places visited in Stevenage Town Centre and High Street; and


·         Station Gateway – the Multi-Storey Car Park was progressing well and was on schedule for completion and opening in Spring 2023.  Visits to the site would be arranged in the New Year.




Annie Piper (Regeneration Programme Manager) presented an update on the Towns Fund.


Annie advised that the deadline for the first Towns Fund monitoring and evaluation report to the Government was approaching (due on 16 December 2022), and work had involved the lining up of resources for the next tranche of projects to move to delivery following the use of a procurement framework.  These were the Stevenage Sports & Leisure Hub, Diversification of Retail and Garden Square, and Cycling & Pedestrian connectivity (including Arts & Heritage) projects.


In answer to a question regarding the potential use of the Bowes Lyon House as part of the footprint for the New Sports & Leisure Hub, Annie commented that initial discussions with Hertfordshire County Council officers regarding this had been promising, and that discussions would continue in 2023.


Annie explained that the draft Towns Fund monitoring and evaluation report would be shared with the Board for comment prior to signing off by the Board Chair and Clare Fletcher (SBC Strategic Director responsible for finance).  The report would contain information on a Programme wide Progress Summary; Project outputs; footfall indicator; and RAG Guidance.


Annie reported that spend on the Towns Fund programme was on target (£4M had been spent in Quarter 2 of 2022/23, and £7.5M by December 2022).




Kit Davies (North Hertfordshire College) gave a presentation on the SITEC project.


Kit advised that the estates work had been completed, as had branding work.  Equipment had been installed and commissioned, and staff recruitment was underway.  Work on Life Sciences partnerships and T level apprenticeships was in progress.


Kit stated that there was laboratory capacity for 120 Level 3 students, 140 Apprentices (Levels 3 – 50 and 160 Higher Education and Access students.  There was an immersive room that embraced Virtual Reality technology suitable for delivering specialist, technical and high-level learning through the use of VR software. In phase 1, this included using FourPlus VR software to deliver training in the life sciences sector (NHC being the first college in the country to have this licence).


Kit referred to the shareholder engagement that had taken place and was continuing, with organisations such as Life Arc and Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, Autoscribe Informatives; Vax Hub (UCL), Autolus and the University of Hertfordshire.


Kit drew attention to upcoming activities, which included curriculum development; a launch event in Spring 2023 (to which Board Members would be invited); a SITEC Steering Group (with support from the Herts LEP, the Bioscience Catalyst and Catapult), and School outreach work and a SITEC life sciences academy programme.


In respect of a question regarding the mechanism for engaging with SITEC, Kit advised that colleagues were in the process or writing to companies in the region, although the focus at present was on the Life Sciences sector.  However, companies such as MBDA were on the list for future engagement.




Kevin Cowin (Mace Development) reminded the Board of the extent of the SG1 development area, a 14.5 acre site which encompassed the former Swingate House, the SBC Council Offices, the Mecca bingo hall, the former bus station area, the Library and Quadrant area, the Southgate Car Park, and the Old Police Station.


Kevin advised that the SG1 development objectives included a mixed use re-purposing of the area to boost the daytime and evening economy.  It would comprise the provision of a modern public sector/health hub and high quality, low carbon homes wrapped around green spaces.


Kevin commented that the SG1 Masterplan provided for 1,860 new homes; a new primary school; and 60,000 square feet of commercial floor space.  Land assembly had been delivered; Swingate House and the Old Police Station had been demolished; and the Section 106 Agreement was in final negotiations.


Kevin stated that the efforts of Mace were focussed on funding options to deliver the first block of works, and work was progressing with SBC to move forward with a fully funded plan.  Mace shareholder funding was ringfenced for the earliest possible contract start.  The construction supply chain had been actively engaged to mobilise for a start on site by June 2023.


In reply to some questions, Kevin explained that there were plans for some positive communications about the project once the Section 106 Agreement had been completed.  He also agreed to liaise with Kit Davies (North Herts college) early in the New Year regarding the Stevenage Works Group and linking in to educational/training opportunities.




Gunnels Wood Road Group


The Board Chair advised that Claire Dicks (MBDA) would be chairing a virtual (Zoom) meeting of the Gunnels Wood Employers Group in January 2023.


Claire explained that the purpose of the Group was to involve as many local employers as possible in the changes and connectivity plans for the area produced by Arup.  She would be reaching out to other companies to seek their involvement, and asked any Board members interested in contributing to the first and future meetings to contact her as soon as possible.


Enterprise Centre concept


Tom Pike (SBC Strategic Director) reported that Reef remained interested in developing the Poundland site in Queensway as an Enterprise Centre for life sciences and co-working spaces.  Due to the current economic situation, the project presented a greater viability challenge than a year ago.  There was also the possibility of integrating elements of the scheme with other sites in the town.  There was a continued appetite to look at various scheme options over the next 3 to 6 months.


Ed Jordan (WENTA) offered to provide advice and assistance on this project, if required.


Investment Zones update


Patsy Dell (Hertfordshire County Council) advised that the HCC Investment Zone submission to the Government, which had focussed on the Stevenage and Ware industrial areas, had been one of 12 submitted to the Government.


Patsy commented that there had been no feedback from the Government, and there had been an indication in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement that the Investment Zones concept may not be progressed.  However, HCC was determined to continue the legacy of the work going forward should the Investment Zones idea or something similar emerges in the future.


Tom Pike agreed to meet with Claire Dicks to discuss the data that had been used in formulating the Gunnels Wood Road element of the submission.


Station Gateway


Tom Pike (SBC Strategic Director) advised that the ambitions for the Stevenage Railway Station were part of the Stevenage Gateway Area Action Plan.  He commented that the station was very busy (over 3.384M journeys per year and over 800,000 interchanges).  However, the Station had limited arrival space, the right of way across the station had a limited width of only 4 metres; and its overall look was dated.


Tom referred to and summarised three concepts for the Station drawn up by Arup a number of years ago.  These had been re-visited by Nicholls, a consultant specialising in the regeneration of railway stations.


Rebecca Collings (Nicholls) presented an updated concept for the Station, with visuals showing how a regenerated area would look with a reconfiguration of Lytton Way and a connection from the level of the street to the level of the station.


Rebecca presented visuals relating to regeneration schemes of other station areas, including Reading Station and Oxford Station.


Rebecca explained that avenues to be explored in relation to the Stevenage Station project would include drawing up a robust economic case; engaging local business representatives; exploring funding opportunities; and engaging Network Rail in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.




There was no other business.



Future meetings of the Stevenage Development Board (all to take place virtually via Zoom) have been arranged to take place on:


·             Thursday, 2 February 2023 – 10.00am

·             Thursday, 30 March 2023 – 10.00am


It was noted that future Board meetings would take place (virtually via Zoom) on the following dates:


·         Thursday, 2nd February 2023: 10.00am – 12.00pm

·         Thursday, 30th March 2023: 10.00am – 12.00pm


The Chair wished all Board Members a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.