Putting the heart back inn to the community

Published: Friday, 18th May 2018

Residents are supporting plans to bring an unused pub at the heart of a community, back into use.

The Portland Inn in Portland Street, Hanley has been empty for a number of years. 

It is hoped  the once-busy pub will be turned into a much-needed community asset offering a range of facilities open to local residents. 

Local resident and member of the Portland Inn Partnership Anna Francis said: “We are absolutely thrilled that the Portland Inn may be in the community's hands. This investment is so important for the future of our area, and will consolidate the hard work already put in by the community, local services and the city council to make positive changes. It will also be a brilliant focal point, and community hub, as the next phase of the reviving communities scheme gets under way; providing that all important space for neighbours to work together to make a real difference for the residents of the area.” 

With the support of agencies, members of the local community have come together to form the Portland Inn Project, a Community Interest Company (CIC). 

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet will make a decision on the transfer of the former pub at a meeting on Tuesday (22 May). The group wants to acquire the former pub under a community asset transfer from the authority.

The group aims to continue involving the area’s existing and new community in the design and delivery of the future of this much needed community facility.

The first stage of the project would be the transfer of the building and its subsequent renovation. Works to make the building safe, weathertight and to ensure that the disabled have access would be carried out by the city council under the empty homes team capital programme budget. It is estimated the work would cost around £50,000. 

The city council plans to lease the property at a peppercorn rent to the group for 25 years. If cabinet give approval and the building is transferred, the Portland Inn Project will be responsible for all costs associated with the upkeep of the property. They will be able to make an application to the city council’s community investment fund and other funding streams to provide additional works.

It is hoped the renovated facility (subject to successful applications for additional funding) will include:

  • a ceramics workshop/social enterprise and open studio space offering the community a space for activity
  • a community social space for local residents to interact and host gatherings and meetings
  • a community accessible roof garden for local residents to volunteer their energy into improving the green spaces in the Portland Street area
  • an arts practitioner residency space
  • a self-contained flat for the manager of the building

The scheme will be able to provide training, apprenticeships and employment for local people. Any profits made from the goods sold from the social enterprise will be put back into the project. 

The Portland Street area is currently benefitting from the second phase of the successful reviving communities scheme. 

Councillor Randy Conteh, Cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city said: “After the first stage of our Reviving Communities scheme – which became known as the £1 Homes programme – improvements were made to include a new community garden and a revamped play area, and social events were held in the open spaces. We are continuing with these positive steps, building on the progress we have already made in strengthening the community and investing in the area.

”To take an unused pub and to turn it around to become a community facility is exactly what this community needs. There is currently no community centre in the area and a community will benefit from that kind of facility, somewhere to meet people, learn and enjoy new skills and make lasting friendships.

“The reviving communities project focuses on providing something affordable, sustainable, imaginative and with the ability to bring back an element of pride to the neighbourhood. The Portland Inn Project complements this scheme perfectly.”   

The city council’s cabinet will make the decision on the project at their next meeting on May 22. 

Call the press office on 01782 236703.