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Stoke-on-Trent awarded Heritage Action Zone status to revive its historic heart

Published: Monday, 4th December 2017

Stoke-on-Trent Ceramic Heritage Action Zone is announced by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Historic England today.

  • The five-year scheme will help to revive Longton, and other key elements of the city’s ceramic heritage
  • The Heritage Action Zone will boost tourism, bring historic buildings back into use and invite local residents and business owners to get involved
  • Media opportunity: On Tuesday, December 5 at 12pm – partners involved in the Heritage Action Zone bid will gather at Longton Town Hall to celebrate being awarded the status

As part of the five-year scheme, the ambition is to bring neglected buildings back into use as housing or retail spaces, improve areas to kick-start regeneration, attract more visitors and transform the ‘at risk’ Longton conservation area. While the Heritage Action Zone – one of eight announced around the country – will focus on the town of Longton, other aspects of the programme will aim to safeguard the future of the iconic surviving 48 bottle ovens and kilns throughout Stoke-on-Trent.

Heritage Action Zones aim to unleash the power in England’s historic environment to create economic growth and improve quality of life in villages, towns and cities.

Working with local people and partners, Historic England will help to breathe new life into old places that are rich in heritage and full of promise – unlocking their potential and making them more attractive to residents, businesses, tourists and investors.

The scheme is being led by the city council and will help to restore Longton’s historic character, insert new housing into historic buildings, rescue bottle kiln sites throughout Stoke-on-Trent, boost tourism and create jobs.

The detailed plan for the Heritage Action Zone will be worked up by spring 2018, and will include any grant-funding to be provided by Historic England.

Heritage Minister John Glen said: “Our heritage not only tells the story of our past, it creates great places to live, work and visit. The Heritage Action Zone scheme will make the most out of Stoke-on-Trent’s historic environment to kick-start regeneration, increase tourism and boost investment.”

Veryan Heal, planning director for Historic England in the West Midlands, said: “Longton has so much to be proud of, from the Gladstone Pottery Museum to its historic high street. Some of its historic buildings are showing signs of neglect but with a little investment and imagination they can become assets for the local community to enjoy and for the whole of Stoke-on-Trent’s economy. We are looking forward to working with Stoke-on-Trent City Council to increase awareness of what Longton has to offer and to make it easy for investors and developers to bring jobs, homes and visitors here.”

Councillor Daniel Jellyman, the city council’s cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “This is fantastic news for Longton and Stoke-on-Trent as a whole. Heritage forms a core part of our UK City of Culture 2021 bid, and we find out this week which city will win the title.

“We are committed to supporting all six towns that make up our great city, and not only preserving but enhancing our unique heritage. This scheme will allow us to work with the owners of historic buildings and bring them back to life in ways which will attract residents, tourists, businesses and investors, and create economic growth.

“Longton has huge potential and the awarding of the Heritage Action Zone will complement the investments we have planned for the town. These include improving the already award-winning Gladstone Pottery Museum and bringing the historic town hall back to life by locating council staff in there which will boost footfall in the area.

“We can’t wait to get started on the project and to ensure that Longton’s character and heritage will truly benefit the area, and current and future generations.”

The other Heritage Action Zones announced today by Historic England are in:

  • Bishop Auckland, County Durham
  • Dewsbury Living Market Town, West Yorkshire
  • Greater Grimsby, Lincolnshire
  • North Lowestoft Heritage Quarter, Suffolk
  • Rochdale Town Centre, Greater Manchester
  • Stockton and Darlington Railway
  • Walworth, London

This is the second wave of Heritage Action Zones to be announced by Historic England. The first wave was announced in March 2017.

For all media enquiries please contact the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232265.