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New direction to support an exciting future for Spode site

Published: Monday, 18th December 2023

Council leaders are pointing to a new future and direction for the historic former Spode pottery, consulting with businesses on redevelopment plans, and a host of activities to accelerate works.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has identified Mace as the preferred bidder to work on a refreshed plan for the 10-acre site in the heart of Stoke town, with future development plans to be based on widespread public consultation.

Mace have been identified following a procurement process that has used the council’s partnership with Homes England to access the expertise and scope of their contractor framework.

Mace have lots of great experience such as recreating Coronation Street as part of ITV’s new Media City development, creating the home for the Mary Rose ship and breathing new life into the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

As part of immediate next steps, the new design partner once appointed, will work closely with businesses and stakeholders, incorporating ideas and feedback to develop a thriving, creative neighbourhood for living, working and leisure. This will draw on all the exciting work being done by some of the existing owners and occupiers of the site.

The announcement is the latest in a string of significant developments for the historic pottery site which will be formally reported to a forthcoming meeting of the council’s cabinet. Progress so far includes:

  • Supporting the Environment Agency with its significant multi-million pound investment starting in 2024, to repair the Fowlea Brook and improve flood protection, with more details to follow in the coming weeks. The brook runs through part of the Spode site.
  • Reaching a settlement with Nimrod Holdings Group for previously completed works on Spode, after the developer withdrew its planning application. The acquired work will mean that new plans don’t have to start from scratch, helping to speed up the process.
  • Agreeing a number of immediate uses for the historic pottery while plans are developed that build on a growing creative and cultural offer at Spode. This move has seen the council give Claybody Theatre access to empty buildings on the site to continue to put on high quality shows and productions that have helped to make Spode thrive with cultural activities, attracting national plaudits.
  • Continuing work to position the development of Spode so that it supports and helps to accelerate the growth of Stoke town centre.

The forthcoming cabinet meeting will also discuss an appropriate mechanism to review historic commercial decisions at Spode to learn lessons from the process.

Council leader Jane Ashworth said: “When we took office in May, we vowed to review the stalled work at Spode and set a new direction to support an exciting future for the site. We’re now building real momentum with this work and are being open and transparent about the process. We want the future development of Spode to be able to celebrate its historical importance, create a unique creative hub and foster world-class, specialist skills and enterprise. Spode is perfectly placed to support and retain talent from local colleges and universities, producing some of the best digital talent in the country.

“Getting this right will set such an important direction for Stoke town and the wider city. We’re confident in the new direction, having brought on board expertise from Homes England and Historic England. This new start enables us to consult with local people and businesses and work with the design consultant to involve local people throughout the process. This is key to the long-term success of the scheme.”

Lucy Lovatt, Senior Partnership and Business Development Manager at Homes England, said: “Spode is a high-profile regeneration site with excellent potential to create a thriving and distinctive place for living and working and to benefit the people of Stoke-on-Trent.

“Our collaboration with Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been mutually beneficial, combining local knowledge with specialist expertise for a shared vision and approach. We welcome the appointment of a design and masterplan consultant through our contractor framework as a positive step forward and look forward to some exciting proposals for this significant site.”

While future plans are taking shape, there is still lots to celebrate at Spode. Current businesses are active, providing leisure and entertainment as well as specialist business services. The council’s arrangement with Claybody Theatre to use some of the empty buildings as performance spaces for theatre productions will continue to help make Spode an exciting destination for visitors, prior to development taking place.