In 1947, Hemel Hempstead was identified as a Mark One New Town, earmarked for expansion, with inspired designs by Geoffrey Jellicoe – providing much needed homes and jobs for Londoners from slum housing or for those whose homes had been bombed during the Second World War. As the town celebrates its platinum anniversary, the Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors are looking ahead to the future.
The aim of the Business Ambassadors is clear. Promote Hemel Hempstead and the surrounding areas, strengthen the reputation of the area as the prime choice for business, attract key people to work and live in the area, create new jobs, attract top talent and persuade investors and developers to see the area as the perfect place to invest.
Inward investment to the area is already high, driven in part by an ambitious regeneration programme by the local authority, Dacorum Borough Council. The aims of this are clear: to facilitate the regeneration of the town centre over the next 10 years through phased redevelopment of key sites to strengthen and diversify the town centre economy and create a quality environment that generates community pride.
However, the regeneration project is not without its challenges, Gary Stringer, Ambassador Place Manager recognises: “There is still much to do in changing local perceptions and raising aspirations for the future of the town, which is why the Business Ambassadors are so central to this project. But with over 50 local businesses signing on and pledging their commitment to raising the profile of the area, we’re firmly established in promoting Hemel Hempstead and the opportunities it offers businesses, developers and institutions.”
The Business Ambassadors include many high profile companies including Sopra Steria, Henkel, Hightown Housing Association, Barclays, RBS, Gyron, Bourne Leisure and McDonalds to name just a few.
The Hemel Hempstead Town Centre Masterplan 2011-2021 which was adopted in January 2013, provides a vision through to 2031 and will guide the town centre’s regeneration over the next ten years. The extensive area of approximately 62.5 hectares (154.5 acres) has been broken down into six zones – as identified in the Masterplan – and each one is being regenerated in turn. The six zones include: The Old Town, Gade and the Marlowes, Jellicoe Water Gardens, the Hospital, Marlowes Shopping Centre, and the Plough – more fondly known as the Magic Roundabout.
Cllr Andrew Williams, Leader of the Council, reflects: “Hemel Hempstead’s 70th ‘new town’ anniversary coincides with the start of a new chapter in our history. We’re just completing our Hemel Evolution regeneration of Hemel Hempstead, which has transformed the town centre and taken it to the finals of the Great British High Street Awards 2016.
“Staying true to our roots, we’re also fulfilling an ambitious £50 million programme to build 300 new homes by 2020. And as a newly designated Enterprise Zone, Maylands will continue to provide major employment opportunities for our residents as they have since the first factory was built there in 1950.”
Investment and growth in the area has already been significant, with Capital & Regional acquiring Marlowes Shopping Centre, Edmunds Parade and Fareham House for a total of £53.8 million. Furthermore, there have been offers for land of over 600,000 square foot on Maylands, while a planning application to regenerate the Bourne End Mills business area was granted during the latter part of 2016. Dacorum Borough Council is nearing completion of its £30 million investment project regenerating the town centre – including The Forum shared services hub, which opened on Monday 16 January 2017, Marlowes shopping area transformation and the Jellicoe Water Gardens restoration.
The regeneration and evolution of the town centre will emphasise its natural and cultural assets, and have a knock-on effect on the surrounding areas, all important to its history and rich heritage. Hemel Hempstead Town Centre will evolve into a vibrant place where people want to shop, work, live, learn and visit.
Cllr Williams continues: “Looking back over our New Town heritage shows us just how far we’ve come. The Forum opened just a few weeks ago, putting the public at the heart of council and voluntary services, and revolutionising the way we work. I’m confident that Hemel Hempstead is in the best possible position to welcome in the next 70 years, allowing the communities of Dacorum to thrive and prosper.”
Published on: February 21, 2017