A multi-million pound investment to transform Stoke-on-Trent’s most visited museum, show off the city’s refurbished Spitfire and boost the city centre economy has taken a step forward.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council unveiled plans for the flagship £6 million development of The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in November, which will see a new eye-catching gallery created to house the iconic plane.
Through the investment, a glassed-front extension would be added to the museum housing a new visitor area for the Spitfire and café. The extension would provide an improved entrance to the museum and include work to create a high-quality public space between the museum and City Central Library. The works would further rejuvenate part of the city centre near to the Smithfield development – improvements designed to attract visitors, encourage business growth and generate income.
Now the city council’s cabinet has given the go-ahead for a project manager and design team to be appointed to take the scheme forward. It is hoped work could start on site early next year, with the entire project potentially completed by March 2020.
The Spitfire was carefully dismantled in January and taken away for restoration by Medway Aircraft Preservation Society, which is expected to take up to two years to complete the work. The team has recently repainted the Merlin engine and stripped the paint off the fuselage.
Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “With the Spitfire currently being carefully restored by experts, we need to start moving forward with plans for its new home at the museum for when that work is completed. The plans that have been drawn up would make a stunning addition to the city centre and provide a fitting setting to tell the story of our Spitfire, and of the role that one of our most famous sons played in a hugely significant chapter in the country’s history.
“As well as improving the museum, this development would enhance the city centre offer as a whole and attract more visitors and attention – it’s great news for residents and businesses.”
In 1972 the Spitfire was presented to the city as a gift from the Royal Air Force. It commemorates Reginald Mitchell’s birthplace in North Staffordshire, and that he received his education in Stoke-on-Trent.
Cllr Anthony Munday, cabinet member for greener city, development and leisure, said: “The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery is a fantastic resource for the city, attracting 150,000 visitors a year. This investment would take the venue to another level and make it even bigger and better. We are clear that we need to make investments that transform this city and this project is testimony to that approach.”
Once appointed, the design team would consult with museum support groups and other stakeholders as part of the development. Opportunities to comment on the design details would also be available during the planning application process.
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