Town Centre Regeneration, Revitalising Hatfield Town Centre

Redevelopment of Hatfield town centre to deliver a more purposeful retail, leisure and community service provision including a mixed-use development scheme on council-owned land.

Region: South East
Theme: Regeneration and Housing (in OPE)

The Challenge

When British Aerospace closed their regional aircraft plant in Hatfield, they employed a sixth of the borough’s workforce. The prospects for the town centre, like many new towns of the era, were bleak. A development partner came on board with an ambitious £100 million regeneration programme, but as it became clear the scheme would fall victim to the 2008 financial crisis, Hatfield – which was “as bad as it gets” according to The Guardian – needed change. The council was faced with boarded up shops and flats in disrepair in addition to low spend and dwell time. Public perception of the town centre was at an all-time low.

The Story

The council stepped in to assemble a unique partnership of local stakeholders to drive forward a long-term, shared ambition for renewal. And whilst that took shape, the council got to work doing what it could with limited resources to lay the foundations for wider regeneration.  This meant undertaking a refurbishment of existing buildings and public realm within the council’s ownership.  New shop fronts, refurbished first floor flats, a new canopy over The Arcade and exterior lighting together more attractive lease terms set the tone for growth. 

Beyond the refurbishment works the 2017 award of One Public Estate (OPE) funding provided financial support to resource the council’s development team and expert consultancy advice to deliver a new mixed use development of 70 new homes and space for new retail and restaurant uses.  The scheme is the first to come forward through the Hatfield Renewal Framework.

Following completion of the new public realm initiative in White Lion Square, planning applications for 151 new homes across two sites have been submitted and are under consideration.  To deliver these homes at pace the council has set about demolishing the existing buildings on the site of One Town Centre.

Ka Ng, Corporate Director, at Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, said:

“The redevelopment of this site will breathe new life into this part of the town centre and help us attract an even better mix of shops and businesses to Hatfield. The funding helped us get the scheme off the ground and, together with our work to transform the central shopping square, will have lasting benefits for our communities for many years to come.”

Refurbishment of White Lion Square

White lion square after being refurbished


Current Progress at One Town Centre

The current progress of the outside area on a cloudy day


Proposed development:

A drawn up idea of proposed developments


The Outcomes

With the regeneraiton of the town centre Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and the Hatfield Renewal Partnership forecast to deliver;

A buoyant local economy

  • People are enjoying a better town centre. We’ve attracted a varied mix of new retailers to the town, including national chains and independent shops, contributing to the comparison spend in Hatfield increasing by over 20%
  • We have a waiting list of shops wanting to come to the town – demand for units is outweighing supply
  • A new property acquisition, HatTech, will provide flexible office space to over 30 young businesses.

Attracting investment

  • We’ve secured over £55 million in funding from OPE, Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Homes England and private developers to deliver on our plans and secure the future prosperity of the town to 2030 and beyond
  • The funding will unlock over 570 new homes and create hundreds of new jobs.

Changing perceptions

  • Perceptions of the town are changing. Local Facebook groups, traditionally a hotbed of negativity, are more positive, with Hatfield now being described in the national media as a ‘rising star’. We are improving people’s lives every day, an impact that will be felt for many generations to come

For further information please contact our Regional Programme Managers for the East, South East Region.