Plans approved for phase one of flagship development in Stevenage

Stevenage Borough Council has approved plans to deliver 243 homes in the first phase of a joint scheme by Bellway North London and Miller Homes.

Outline planning permission for up to 800 homes on the site off North Road – as well as a local centre, a primary school, country park and public open space – was granted by the local authority in September 2022.

Detailed plans by the developers to build 243 homes within phase 1 were approved by the council’s planning committee on Thursday (9 February). A separate application with details of the site-wide infrastructure was also approved.

Bellway plans to deliver 105 of these homes, consisting of 75 two, three and four-bedroom properties for private sale and 30 affordable homes available for local people through low-cost rent or shared ownership.

Reserved matters applications for a further 115 homes within phase 1 and the 93-acre country park are to be considered by the council at a later date.

The new homes occupy an area of land near Rooks Nest House, where novelist EM Forster lived as a child, and which was the inspiration for his novel Howards End, published in 1910. Part of the first phase of the development lies within the St Nicholas/Rectory Lane Conservation Area, which includes Rooks Nest, and the properties here have been carefully designed to be sensitive to their historic surroundings, with complementary character areas throughout the development.

Ali Maruf, Managing Director for Bellway North London, said: “The approval from Stevenage Borough Council gives us the green light to go ahead with our plans to start the transformation of this 183-acre site.

“We have worked closely with the local authority to bring much-needed new housing to Stevenage and to meet the specific needs of the area. Now that the plans have been approved, we will look to start work in the spring.

“We are aware of the historic literary significance of the area and are focused on creating a new neighbourhood sympathetic to the unique character of the conservation area and surrounding landscape which inspired EM Forster’s work.”

Bellway North London completed their land purchase with partner developer, to the east of North Road in November 2022. Bellway’s portion of the site was acquired in partnership with Bellway Strategic Land.

Bellway Strategic Land is part of Bellway. The company’s strategic land team consists of planning and development experts who work with landowners, specialist planners and local authorities to identify long-term opportunities for development.

This expertise is available to assist landowners and development partners in ensuring the delivery of planning permissions and to maximise the value of land.

Ali continued: “The proposed mix of homes will provide high-quality, energy-efficient new housing for a wide range of buyers, including commuters, first-time buyers, families needing more space and those looking to downsize. We will be working closely with a local Housing Association to ensure the development will also benefit local people and provide a chance for keyworkers and those on lower incomes to be able to secure an affordable home, whilst being able to stay close to family and friends.

“The new homes within the conservation area will include traditional features such as hipped roofs, tile hanging, brick arches, chimneys and gable-fronted porch canopies. Meanwhile, the proposed country park is set to include the restoration of hay meadows to the approximate field pattern as shown on historic maps and described in EM Forster’s texts.

“Due to the size of the development, we anticipate working on the site for up to five years and intend to play a positive role within the local community as this new neighbourhood takes shape. We will be delivering housing for hundreds of people and bringing investment, jobs and improvements to local facilities which will benefit both existing and new residents in the town.”