Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors Shaping Growth in Dacorum

The Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors gathered for their last meeting of 2017 at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, on Thursday 23 November, to hear from several exciting speakers on the latest developments taking place within Hemel Hempstead and the surrounding areas – including a detailed analysis of the new Local Plan for Dacorum, a key document in shaping the future of the borough.

Gary Stringer, Place Manager for the Ambassadors, opened the meeting by introducing the latest Business Ambassadors to join the initiative including: Longdean School, Igloo Creative, NBM Technology, Smiths Detection and Squire Estates.

The Ambassadors were subsequently given an introduction to the school by Principal, Stefan Anderson, along with details of their future plans, and entertained at the end of the evening by five musical theatre students, with tunes from 42nd Street, Westside Story and Anyone Can Whistle. The school, which has a full academic programme, is now home to 360 pupils, two thirds of which are boarders.

In-depth presentations followed by Vince Williams, BID Steering Group Chair and Marlowes Shopping Centre Manager; Mark Gaynor, Corporate Director, Housing & Regeneration, Dacorum Borough Council with Lee Walker Associate Director, Research and Development, Central Management Ltd; Shaping the Future – Dacorum’s Local Plan Consultation Proposals from James Doe, Assistant Director, Planning, Development & Regeneration, Dacorum Borough Council.

Vince Williams, BID Steering Group Chair and Marlowes Shopping Centre Manager outlined the results and plans for the BID (business improvement district) within the town centre, including the three core priorities of selling the Hemel experience, caring for our town and finally, to ensure it is a safe and welcoming environment.  The BID is intended to drive visitor numbers to the town and extend the amount of time they stay, thereby increasing spend with the local businesses and promoting the town as a key retail and leisure destination.

Mark Gaynor, Corporate Director, Housing & Regeneration for Dacorum Borough Council outlined the potential for a further BID for Maylands Business park with the Ambassadors to discuss further at subsequent meetings.

James Doe, Assistant Director, Planning, Development & Regeneration for Dacorum Borough Council talked in some detail about the needs for future housing delivery and the challenge of finding appropriate sites within the context of much of the Borough being covered by the Green Belt.

The Council is consulting on a major increase in new housebuilding in accordance with the Government’s proposals to significantly boost the supply of housing.  Historically, the area has been experiencing growth of around 350-375 new homes each year. Dacorum’s new Local Plan consultation sets out three growth options of between 602 to 1100 new homes per year. The Council looks forward to receiving the views of businesses and the public, and from this intends to prepare preferred proposals by Spring 2018.

James also indicated three potential locations for new business and employment development near Tring, Hemel Hempstead and Kings Langley.

James commented “We have worked hard to ensure an open and inclusive process for public consultation, with six public exhibitions at key locations over the past two weeks.

“We are conscious that infrastructure is always one of the biggest challenges to delivering new housing; we’ll do our level best to secure this through the forward planning process.”

Finally, James encouraged the Ambassadors to visit and comment on the new local plan at: www.dacorum.gov.uk/home/do-it-online/consultation-feedback/current-consultation before the midnight deadline on Wednesday 13 December.

Jean McLeish, Head of Defence Marketing at Sopra Steria, and Chair of the Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors’ board concluded the presentations by thanking the host and speakers and looking forward to an “enhanced town centre, shaped by the businesses that operate in Hemel Hempstead.”

The next Ambassadors meeting will take place at BSI Kitemark House on Thursday 1 February 2018. For further information on the Hemel Hempstead Business Ambassadors, visit www.investhemel.co.uk or contact Gary Stringer, Ambassador Place Manager, on tel: 01442 228808.

[Photo courtesy of Adam Hollier Photography]

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