The gardens were designed as an integral part of the masterplan for Stevenage New Town, the first New Town in the UK. The gardens were constructed between 1959 and 1961 and were designed by Gordon Patterson, the landscape architect for Stevenage New Town. As its name suggests the gardens are located within the town centre providing amenity for the shoppers and workers of Stevenage as well as residents of the nearby flats and houses.
HTA were appointed by Stevenage Borough Council to create a new vision for the Town Centre Gardens. At over forty years old, the park had fallen into decline and was generally perceived as neglected and unsafe. The Gardens are the primary formal park in Stevenage and are an important and rare mid C20th modernist landscape. The gardens are composed of two large open spaces with a lake, sensory gardens, play area and extensive tree and shrub planting and civic art.
The design responds the modernist aesthetic of the original park with the use of robust geometry and simple materials and a celebration of civic landscape in the form of grass, water and trees. The project successfully combined the restoration of the structure, character and heritage features within the Gardens with new contemporary interventions to give it a renewed relevance for the future.
The project commenced in 2006 with public engagement over the summer months. Subsequently the masterplaning exercise gained support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and ultimately secured funding from the Parks for People fund. Works to the park were carried out over two phases with phase one (Growth Area Funding) being completed in 2008 and phase two commencing in summer 2010 and completed in summer 2011.