Michael Gove promises millions in funding for Stafford town development project

  • Lucy Kapasi reports on the Government's plans for the county town.

The levelling up secretary Michael Gove has been in Stafford to announce £20 million of funding to transform an old factory site near the town's railway station.

Known as the Station Gateway Project, the development will see 19 acres of land transformed into a new community of 900 homes with offices, shops, businesses, a hotel and a multi-storey car park.

It's expected to be ready by 2040.

Mr Gove said: "Well, I think that for a multiple range of reasons there are towns, county towns in particular, like Stafford, that have seen investment go to our major cities, to Birmingham and to Manchester.

"And of course that's sensible as a way of boosting economic growth, but we cannot afford to have attractive county towns like Stafford left behind.

"Stafford is well-connected, to Birmingham, to Manchester and to London, but what we need is investment in Stafford itself."

Aiden Godfrey, a Labour councillor who leads Stafford Borough Council, is on board with the project, and says the site is "just a stroll from the town centre".

He added: "We're getting away from the car, we're thinking about more things in a more green way - the constructions that we're going to put here, the housing, businesses et cetera will be built in completely different ways to buildings in the past, so it's really exciting for us."

Today's announcement follows a number of other investments in the town including £14 million to improve the high street. 

The newly refurbished market square, where the Christmas lights were switched on on Saturday evening, has just been finished and work is about to start to improve the approach and entrance of the railway station.

A statement from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities highlights that "£118 million of government funding [has been] awarded to six projects to further boost levelling up in the West Midlands".

Projects promised by the Government include regenerating Stafford Station Gateway, expanding colleges in Halesowen and Dudley and improving town centre transport links.

They say they are "boosting economic growth with £1 billion funding [...] from the third round of the levelling up fund".

The derelict site where the Stafford Station Gateway will be thriving by 2040, according to the Government. Credit: ITV News Central

The borough council has also bought the derelict department store which will house both homes and shops.

Cafe owner Katie Davis says it's good news, saying: "Personally I think it's brilliant. I am Stafford born and bred, and it's so lovely to see money coming into the town centre."

"We're quite a nice little close community, but hopefully that bit of extra investment - especially around the train station, it's brilliant, it's a brilliant spot - will get people back into the centre of town."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...