REVEALED: £500m scheme to overhaul derelict Stafford land ahead of HS2
A £500 million vision to bring homes, offices and a hotel to Stafford has been unveiled.
The Stafford Gateway Masterplan would develop land near to Stafford railway station and has been planned on the back of the multi-billion pound HS2, which will stop off in the town.
Developers have already shown an interest in the 28-hectare site, which could see 650 apartments, 150 houses and a new multi storey car park with 1,400 spaces built on it.
On top of this council bosses say leisure chains have already expressed an interest in building a hotel with conferencing facilities on the site.
The plans will be discussed for the first time at a meeting of Stafford Borough Council’s cabinet on Thursday July 6.
Council bosses have been asked to lend their approval to the scheme and allow it to form part of their local plan review, which governs developments across the borough.
Councillor Patrick Farrington, the leader of the borough council, said HS2 had ‘presented an opportunity’ which the town was looking to capitalise on.
He said: “Our borough is growing and we have big ambitions for it. HS2 has presented an opportunity to deliver substantial economic growth and regeneration across the town.
“We want to ensure we have a vibrant town centre for the future – knowing that more residents and office workers in town will provide a boost to the High Street - and we will be studying these exciting plans very closely to ensure we are creating the right environment for businesses to flourish, for people to live, work and enjoy the area, and for communities to prosper.”
The site next to the railway station used to be home to manufacturing, industrial and rail-related use, but most of this has now finished. Under the plans another entrance to the railway station would be built on both sides while enhanced walking and cycling routes through to the town centre would also be unveiled.
The eye-watering investment is the latest in a long line for the town. Work on the £100m Riverside retail scheme is now finished with an expansion of the army barracks also completed and hundreds of new homes either having been built or in the pipeline. On top of this work is under way on a new cinema in Stafford and an 83-acre business park at Meaford in the north of the borough. Work will get underway this year on a near-£10m leisure scheme in Stone and there are advanced plans for a £2.5m restoration of the county town’s award winning Victoria Park.
Councillor Farrington continued: “Our borough is rightly seen as a great place to invest because of our position at the centre of the UK, with fantastic transport links.
“Recent figures show more than £1.5 billion has been invested in, or planned for, the area but we will not forget to protect what we already have - a safe, clean and green borough with an excellent quality of life.” HS2, the controversial high-speed rail link between London and Manchester, will cut through great swathes of Staffordshire countryside when it is built by 2026.
It will have numerous sub stations along the route, including one in Stafford which has sparked the mammoth development plans. Work in the county started back in April with preparatory land investigations at a site in Whittington, near Lichfield. It is claimed HS2 will create around 25,000 jobs during construction as well as 2,000 apprenticeships and support a further 100,000 jobs. But campaigners in Staffordshire have warned the line will cause irreversible damage to the countryside. Whittington Heath Golf Club will see its historic clubhouse knocked down so the railway can be built and rare heathland in the county will also be affected. Staffordshire Wildlife Trust said 160 wildlife sites will be affected by the first phase of HS2 as well as 129 acres of ancient woodland.
Beccy Speight, chief executive of the Woodland Trust, previously said: “Any loss or damage to ancient woodland is a catastrophe for the natural environment. Just two per cent of the UK’s land area is made up of these precious and irreplaceable habitats, so for large infrastructure projects like HS2 to be riding roughshod over them, rather than setting an example to avoid them, is totally unacceptable.”