Posted on Monday 20th November 2023
Plans for new homes, businesses and multi-storey car park on disused land in Stafford have taken a step closer after the Government backed a £20m funding bid.
And Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities came to the county town to hear for himself plans for the multi-million pound Stafford Station Gateway project, of which the county council is a partner.
The minister met the leader of the borough council, Aidan Godfrey, to tell him personally that the borough council had been successful with their bid for £19,998,144. Mr Gove chose to come to Stafford on the day the Government announced that nationally 55 local projects were being awarded a share of nearly £1 billion from the third round of their flagship Levelling Up Fund, to spread opportunity, create jobs and revitalise local communities.
Councillor Godfrey said the announcement was further testament of the confidence the government and private sector had in the borough council and partners to deliver for the town.
Proposals for the ‘Station Gateway’ scheme include a hotel, up to 900 new homes, 30,000 square feet of commercial space, a 350-space multi-storey car park, along with retail and leisure facilities on ‘underutilised brownfield land’ around the railway station.
Mr Gove was told that by 2040 Stafford Station Gateway will be a thriving new community within Stafford where people want to live, work and visit.
The project is a partnership between the borough council, Staffordshire County Council, placemaking and regeneration expert LCR, and Network Rail.
A new Institute of Technology for Stafford College, supported by £13 million of government funding and backed by Keele University, Siemens, and Dell, among others, is already being built on part of the Gateway site.
Councillor Godfrey said:
Yet again this is testament in the confidence that the government has in the borough council and partners being able to deliver on significant investment that is coming to our area.
That the Secretary of State has chosen Stafford as the place to make this announcement sends a clear message about our strong position on the national map.
And I told Mr Gove that we were perfectly placed by road, rail and air for new businesses to flourish and the Stafford Gateway will be a thriving, vibrant new community within the town where people want to live, work and visit and all sustainably connected to the railway station.”
Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for economy and skills Philip White said:
I was delighted to be part of the delegation who welcomed the Levelling up Secretary Michael Gove to Stafford today to announce the fantastic news that the Stafford Station Gateway project has been successful in its bid for LUF funding from the Government – this is another hugely exciting milestone for the regeneration of the county town.
Staffordshire County Council is a key partner in the future development around the station area working closely with Stafford Borough Council to deliver their masterplan for the regeneration of the area.
Stafford Station Gateway is an important piece of the town’s ongoing revitalisation with the county council’s Eastgate regeneration plans and the borough’s Future High Street programme. It will follow completion of the Shire Hall business centre, Stafford western access route and Victoria Park renovation.
Together they are paving the way for wider growth, including new housing, employment space and leisure facilities which will in turn attract major inward investment in future years.”
The Levelling Up Secretary also heard about the borough council plans to convert the huge former Co-op Department store in the centre of the town, which has been empty for more than a decade, into a food court, retail and residential offer.
Mr Gove said:
Levelling up means delivering local people’s priorities and bringing transformational change in communities that have, for too long, been overlooked and undervalued.
This funding sits alongside our wider initiatives to spread growth, through devolving more money and power out of Westminster to towns and cities, putting in place bespoke interventions to places that need it most, and our Long-Term Plan for Towns.”
There is significant investment being made in the county town with other projects underway or recently delivered such as the Staffordshire History Centre and the business hub at Shire Hall, the refurbishment of the Market Square and work due to begin soon on the approach and entrance to the railway station, with plans taking shape around the Eastgate area of town.
The masterplan for the ‘Gateway’ can be found at Stafford Station Gateway | Stafford Borough Council (staffordbc.gov.uk)