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STATEMENT - New administration signals shift in strategy for major development sites

Published: Thursday, 19th October 2023

Major development sites in Stoke-on-Trent will better reflect the changing needs of the city and a changing economic climate, council leaders have pledged.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet has reaffirmed its commitment to delivering the transformation of key sites across the city, but to do so in a way that enables more residents to benefit from regeneration and delivers value for money in challenging economic times.

The authority secured government funding through the Levelling Up initiative to support the redevelopment of sites including Etruscan Square in the city centre and Spode Works in Stoke. As part of a thorough process of reviewing these sites, the council is drawing on the specific expertise and support of Homes England and Historic England as well as consulting with local stakeholders.

The Etruscan Square development has planning approval currently in place for a mobility hub car park alongside an initial phase of residential development. There is now a change of focus to provide more of the much-needed residential accommodation as a first phase of the site’s redevelopment, recognising the significant shortage of good quality accommodation for residents in the city centre.

Planning approval was also received for a masterplan for the 10-acre site, the largest city centre development site of its kind in the region. This is also undergoing review and instead of the proposed arena, a multi-purpose sport, leisure and entertainment facility is being explored which will better serve the needs of the community. 

   Council leader Jane Ashworth said: “The planning permission puts us in a good position to work with developers to build the new homes that our city centre is in real need of. We know that this particular part of the city centre is in the top 1.4% most deprived areas in the country mainly because of poor housing availability and options. Building new houses here is a fantastic signal to developers that this is a key site to invest in, and it will support further phases of work to bring new leisure and entertainment facilities to the site. Options for this will be brought forward later this year and start of next year.”

Spode Works is a unique historic site already home to a cluster of creative industries at the former internationally renowned pottery. There is potential to build on this success and provide further space for a mix of digital and creative companies in addition to a residential offer, an ‘urban village’. This will bring historic buildings back into use and support the future viability of Stoke town centre through new investment and the additional footfall it will create. The direction of travel has been illustrated by the recent theatre production in the works by Claybody Theatre which sold out its run and more events will follow.

Much of the essential survey work to guide development has been completed and a tender for design principles and masterplan has now been issued through the Homes England commissioning framework.

Councillor Ashworth said: “There is so much potential at the Spode site and we want to see new plans brought forward that will have the most benefit for local people.

“We’re adopting a pragmatic approach to both of these sites that sets out clear instruction to developers to give them confidence and impetus to commit to investing in the city, and that has the interests of residents and the community at heart.

“In some cases, this will mean pushing back start dates for work on site as we review options. However, through this process, we can be confident that the developments will be relevant to the needs of the city and financially viable.”

Other development sites are progressing: Goods Yard, is the most advanced of the schemes and will provide 174 new apartments for rent and leisure space close to the city’s rail station and the Trent and Mersey Canal. 

The station area will benefit from investment through the city’s Transforming Cities Fund, creating a new urban space within Winton Square and connecting the Goods Yard scheme. It will create stronger links, walking and cycling routes, from the station to the city centre. Further investment is also planned in Longton as funds are redirected into the provision of lifts to access the rail station, benefiting members of the community with mobility issues, in addition to families and cyclists.