Report praises council’s work on town centre project

Hemel town centre development
Hemel town centre development

A scheme to regenerate Hemel town centre is one of the best such projects in the entire country, according to a new report.

Dacorum Borough Council’s work was one of nine projects highlighted in a new study written by senior figures from business and local government.

The document, titled ‘Enabling Retail Development’, praised the council for producing a strong local plan, being prepared to accept risk, and for working proactively with the private sector.

Mark Bourgeois, senior vice-president of the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) which produced the report, said: “The examples presented here show how positive, partnership-led regeneration can dramatically enhance a local area and revitalise communities.

“Through today’s debate and in sharing this research publicly, we hope to encourage the development of clear local plans and invite local authorities to engage and work alongside the private sector to bring about positive change in their areas.”

Hemel town centre is currently going through a £30million regeneration being led by Dacorum Borough Council.

The scheme divides the town centre into six different zones which are being developed in turn.

Work has already beem completed in the ‘Old Town Zone’, which has included preserving the area’;s character whilst reopening venues like The Cellar Club.

Work is set tostart later this month on the Jellicoe Water Gardens (see page 7), while other major projects will include a £2million-plus investment in a new bus interchange, spending £4million to pedestrianise the shopping area and Bank Court, and spending £600,000 on the ‘Plough Zone’ to turn the area around the Plough Roundabout (aka the Magic Roundabout) into a “welcoming gateway into Hemel Hempstead”.

Other projects were highlighted in Bradford, Oldham, Sheffield, Walsall, Newport, Ealing, Hounslow and Woking.

John Coyne, chief executive of the BCSC, addted: “Development viability and local leadership are critical factors when retail property developers make investment decisions Investors need assurance from a proactive and engaged local authority partner if they are to be willing to commit investing time and money into complex regeneration schemes.

“The benefits that such proactively and engagement can bring are perfectly presented in this report, and the creativity and commitment offered by the local authorities selected is evident.”