New artists’ studios, workshops and office accommodation planned for Stoke heritage site

Published: Friday, 27th September 2019

Planning permission has been granted for a number of improvements to the historic former Spode Pottery factory in Stoke.

It will see new artists’ studios, workshops and office accommodation planned for the landmark heritage site. 

The approved works include essential fabric repairs, alternations and refurbishment of the remaining historic entrance courtyard buildings to the Spode site from Church Street in the town centre.  

The buildings included in the works are the former reception and accounts office, the round counting house and work managers’ offices, the former seconds’ shop and store and the glaze crank store. 

Through the work, internal spaces will be converted for artist workspaces, an external staircase, pitch roof and former door openings will be reinstated and repairs will be made to roofs, windows, roof lights and the buildings themselves, bringing them back to their former glory. 

Improvements will see more studio and workshop space created for artists and makers including those working in contemporary ceramics. The development will also provide office accommodation designed for small scale and start up creative enterprises.

Over £830,000 is being invested into this phase of improvements - £500,000 from Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Local Enterprise Partnership, £330,000 from Stoke-on-Trent City Council as part of their capital investment programme. Additional funding is provided from Arts Council England, awarded to the city council in partnership with The Association for Cultural Advancement through Visual Art (ACAVA) who established and operate the existing 43 artists’ studios at Spode, and the Stoke-on-Trent City Council Community Investment Fund, awarded to ACAVA.

Spode is owned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council who has through various phrases of works and £3m investment since 2015 transformed the site to safeguard the historical former factory for long-term use. Revitalisation of the site to date includes an artists’ village with artist studios, a world-class exhibitions and performance space – currently the China Halls is showcasing the British Ceramics Biennial - a hotel, café, museum and shop.  The site has also been used for a range of events from charity balls to iconic theatre productions to national dance music nights.  

It is located at the fringe of the Stoke town centre conservation area and is recognised as a heritage asset of national and local historic and architectural significance. There has been a pottery on the site from at least 1751 - it was purchased by Josiah Spode the first in 1776 who made it his namesake and has remained as a pottery until it went into administration in 2008.  It was purchased by the city council in 2009. 

Cllr Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage said: “This is great news for Stoke town. It shows that the site continues to go from strength to strength and I think Josiah himself would have been pleased to know the former factory is being preserved for future generations. 

“This is another incredibly important milestone in directly anchoring Spodeworks into the town with more access being opened up.  We want this historic site to be a thriving, creative hub that is used on an everyday basis. Its success is central to the success of Stoke town and we’re working closely with businesses to make sure they are part of the future of the site and that what we do complements what’s happening in the area for the benefit of the whole community. 

Acting chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership Alun Rogers said: “The Spodeworks building is iconic to Stoke and to the wider city. This project is building on Stoke-on-Trent’s traditional industries and will bring this space to life with businesses in the creative sector. It will help to further regenerate the town centre, bringing in more visitors and future investors. The LEP is pleased to have supported this project and we look forward to seeing it get off the ground.” 

Tom Holley, Chief Executive of ACAVA said: “We are absolutely delighted that planning permission has been granted for this proposal. ACAVA is proud to be working with Stoke-on-Trent City Council to deliver a dynamic mix of creative workspaces and people at the heart of this unique post-industrial heritage site. Our aim is to deliver the high quality workspaces, studios and professional support that enables artists, makers, cultural organisations and start-ups to thrive. This is an important moment for the development of this vision that will build on, enrich and diversify our current offering of 43 studios.”

Work on the site is due to start in winter 2019.   

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