Work to start on East West Centre redevelopment as landmark bus station gets green light

Work on a state-of-the-art new bus station in the city centre will start next week as planning consent is granted.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s planning committee today approved plans for the new landmark bus station in the heart of the city centre as part of the first phase of the £350 million redevelopment of the East West Centre.

The decision means work to transform the site of the current John Street surface car park in to a stunning new gateway for the city centre will start on Wednesday 23 March, ahead of schedule. In preparation, work has begun to revamp the John Street multi-storey car park to make room for motorists when the surface car park closes in the next few weeks.

“This is fantastic news for the city. We gave commitment to starting on the bus station by 28 March. We have managed this. This is a sign of our absolute commitment to making sure we deliver. The new bus station will become a lasting legacy for the city and will provide users with a quality, warm and safe facility.”
“This really is a significant day for the city as we prepare to start work on the first phase of the city’s major regional shopping development. This comes at a time when the Mitchell Memorial Theatre is nearing completion, work on the initial phases of the Central Business District is progressing and we are preparing to start the first phase of public realm works.”

The reserved matters planning application details the specifics of the design for the bus station, which include a dramatic sweeping roof and glazed concourse, as well as plenty of public spaces, comfortable enclosed waiting areas, public conveniences, CCTV, cafes and shops. The plans have been designed by the internationally renowned architect Grimshaw, who were appointed following a major design competition and consultation with local residents and businesses last year.

Work will start on the project next week with the installation of hoardings around the site ready for remedial works to begin. The John Street surface car park will remain open until the 2.4m high hoarding is completed around the site so that motorists can benefit from existing car parking spaces for as long as possible.

The revamp of John Street multi-storey car park will improve the lighting and general condition of the site to make a safer, cleaner and more appealing facility. The 590 spaces on the multi-storey car park are currently underused with only around 29 per cent of the bays being used at one time. The improvements will mean that the multi-storey car park will be able to absorb the extra demand from motorists when the 296 space John Street surface car park closes in a few weeks.

The bus station is the first stage of Realis Estate’s new regional shopping centre in Stoke-on-Trent. The East West Centre redevelopment project will transform the prominent city centre site of the existing East West Centre to create a new, 650,000 sq ft high quality regional shopping centre that will include a department store, a wide range of new shops, cafés, restaurants, vibrant public spaces, a multi-screen cinema, a hotel and improved parking.

“We are delighted by the Council’s decision and look forward to the start of enabling works on site next week. The new bus station is a vital part of the redevelopment of the East West Centre and gives the city yet another good reason to look to the future with optimism. The development will become a stunning new gateway to the city centre that will create a memorable first impression for visitors.”

Plans To Rejuvenate City Centre Streets Go On Display

Early proposals for a revitalised city centre design are going on display for the first time in a bid to gauge public opinion.

Ideas for improvements to city centre streets and public spaces will be on display from Thursday 17 March with a series of roadshows in Tontine Square on 22 and 23 March.

The designs, which have been drawn up by the city council’s in-house design team, show how areas such as Tontine Square, Crown Bank and can be revitalised to create an improved, functional and attractive space for visitors and residents to enjoy.

“The city centre is currently undergoing major regeneration with schemes such as the new bus station, Central Business District, Mitchell Memorial Theatre and East West Centre redevelopment all moving forward. The public realm improvements will help to complement the major schemes by creating a mixture of new public spaces which create an inviting atmosphere for shoppers and visitors.”

Key priorities have been identified for the project to complement work on the city’s major regeneration schemes such as the new bus station, East West Centre redevelopment and Central Business District.

Areas that have been identified for investment include Tontine Street, Percy Street, Fountain Square, Upper Market Square, Crown Bank, Market Lane and Albion Square.

The first phase of work, which is due to take place in the next financial year, will focus on Tontine Street and Percy Street.

The consultation will give local people the chance to comment on initial designs for the area. Plans will be online at www.stoke.gov.uk/citycentreconsultation , on public display in The Indoor Market, The Potteries Museum and The Regent Theatre and at the roadshows in Tontine Square on Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23 March between 10am and 4pm. Comments can be received up until 31 March.

Once the comments have been received a final design is expected to be drawn up for the first phase of works by the end of July.

Planning Submitted For New £350million City Centre Bus Station

Plans for a state-of-the-art city centre bus station have been submitted to Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

A detailed planning application has been received for the landmark bus station, which will form the first phase of the £350million redevelopment of the East West Centre creating a stunning new gateway for Stoke-on-Trent city centre.

The reserved matters application details the proposed designs and layouts, drawn up by Grimshaw Architects, for the new city centre bus station.

A decision on the application is due in the coming weeks.

“A new city centre bus station is something many residents and passengers are keen to see in Stoke-on-Trent. The current facility is tired and out dated. The planning application details a modern, safe and warm facility in the heart of the city centre which will provide the first block of the new regional shopping centre. It is an important step and good news for the development.”

The planning application outlines the designs for the purpose built new facility on the current John Street surface car park and follows a series of public consultations on the proposals. The move will mark the first stage of Realis Estate’s new regional shopping centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

The East West Centre redevelopment project will transform the prominent city centre site of the existing East West Centre to create a new, 650,000 sq ft high quality regional shopping centre that will include a department store, a wide range of new shops, cafés, restaurants, vibrant public spaces, a multi-screen cinema, a hotel and improved parking.

“The submission of the planning application marks an important milestone for the redevelopment of the East West Centre and takes us another step closer to starting on site in the spring.

“These exciting plans have been developed in partnership with local residents and include a number of facilities that people requested – such as toilets, enclosed waiting areas and shops and cafés.

“The East West Centre redevelopment will create a new regional shopping destination that will tempt shoppers back to Stoke-on-Trent from cities such as Manchester and Birmingham.

“Working closely with the council, we successfully moved the project forward during 2010 and look forward to starting on site in the next few months.”

City Centre Streets in Line For a Revamp

Councillors are being asked to approve plans to start work on a series of improvements to public spaces in the city centre.

A report to Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet on 3 February recommends starting to draw up detailed designs for a phased city centre public realm program starting later in the year.

The works, which could include extra seating, improved public spaces, and new paving, are designed to link major developments in the city centre such as the Central Business District, bus station and East West Shopping Centre creating innovative public space at the heart of the city centre.

The total budget available for the works is still yet to be agreed as part of the current Budget proposals. However, it is expected to enable the first phase of work to start in autumn with further phases developed around the delivery of key projects in the city centre.

“The public realm improvements are an important part of the regeneration of Stoke-on-Trent. They are designed to complement and create innovate spaces in between city developments such as the new bus station, Central Business District and East West redevelopment. Cabinet is being asked to look at proposals to start work on creating detailed designs for the project as well as ways of phasing the works to provide maximum effect with the budget available.”

Areas that have been identified for investment include Tontine Street, Percy Street, Fountain Square, Upper Market Square, Crown Bank, Market Lane and Albion Square.

It is proposed the detailed designs will be drafted by the city council’s design team with each phase being reviewed annually to make sure that investment is being targeted at priority areas for current development.

A decision on the report is due at the council’s cabinet meeting on Thursday 3 February.

Hanley Bus Station Short List Of Construction Companies Announced

Six companies have been chosen to proceed to the next stage of the selection process for the main contractor, which will start building the long awaited Hanley Bus Station in the summer once enabling works have been completed.

The short-listed companies are:

  • C Spencer Limited
  • Galliford Try
  • Kier Northern
  • Laing O’Rourke Construction
  • VINCI Construction UK Limited
  • Wates Construction Limited

The short-listed teams will now undergo the main tender for the works before a main contractor is selected.

Work on the landmark bus station, which forms the first phase of the £350 million East West Centre redevelopment, and the demolition of the Coachmakers Arms is due to start in March.

The East West Centre redevelopment project which will, according to publicity at least, transform the prominent city centre site of the existing East West Centre to create a new, 650,000 sq ft high quality regional shopping centre that will include a department store, a wide range of new shops, cafés, restaurants, vibrant public spaces, a multi-screen cinema, a hotel and improved parking.

We are delighted to announce such a strong shortlist of contractors, which includes a number of the biggest names in the industry. The project has created a lot of interest so narrowing the shortlist down to just six companies has not been easy.

We want to make sure we choose the right contractor for a scheme of this size and importance, and so we will spend the next few months carefully reviewing the tenders before making our final decision.

This is the next important step in the completion of the city’s new bus station. The facility is the first phase of the £350 million redevelopment of the East West Centre and will create a warm and secure space for those using the buses. It is pleasing to see that the tender has attracted interest from companies across the country and is testament to the scale and importance of the development.

The bus station forms the first phase of Realis Estates’ multi-million pound shopping and leisure facility. It will be built on the current John Street surface car park.

Shaping the future of Longton

Revived historic buildings, more public space and new homes are just some of the proposals residents are being asked to have their say on as part of the regeneration of a Stoke-on-Trent town.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is holding a series of consultation events over the next six weeks to help shape the future of Longton. The events, which will give residents the chance to have a first glimpse at proposals, are designed to help shape the town’s masterplan and guide future investment to the area.

On Monday 17 January, proposals will go on display for the first time at the Precinct Shop, between Boots Pharmacy and Iceland in Bennett Precinct, Longton, between 10am and 7pm to give residents the chance to have their say. Options in the proposals include the pedestrianisation of The Strand with the aim of creating new public space and increasing footfall in the shopping areas. To help businesses and residents to evaluate the proposal a six month trial of the pedestrianisation scheme is suggested to start towards the end of March, subject to the successful outcome of both the public consultation and comments from the Highways Agency.

On Monday the proposals for the trial pedestrianisation will be on display alongside the masterplan exhibition at the Precinct Shop between 10am and 7pm for residents to comment. Comments on the pedestrianisation trial can be received up until 28 January.

Other suggestions in the masterplan exhibition include increasing creative businesses, building new homes on former pottery sites and creating a heritage trail promoting historic assets.

The masterplan exhibition will be on display for six weeks at a series of locations until the end of February. The results will be collated to help determine a preferred option for the masterplan and further consultation events will then be held.

“Longton is a historic town with a wealth of heritage buildings. The masterplan is designed to help shape the future of the town centre and it is important people take the time to highlight changes they would like to see. This is the beginning of the process and will be the first time residents have had the chance to express their opinions on what they would like to see in the town.”

It is hoped by holding the consultation on the pedestrianisation trial and the masterplan in parallel it will help present all of the options for the town giving residents the opportunity to review proposals.

“It is important that we look at all options for increasing footfall and improving traffic movements in Longton. It is hoped the pedestrianisation trial will be a way of reviewing how the system would work and whether it is plausible. At the moment the city council is outlining the proposals and asking residents to comment on what they think about the scheme before a possible trial in spring. I would urge as many people as possible to look at the plans and help shape the future of this historic town.”

The masterplan covers an area of 118 hectares and is split in to four areas the Town Centre, Uttoxeter Road and Town End, King Street and South of the A50.

Comments for the trial pedestrianisation scheme need to be submitted before 28 January. However, events for residents to comment on the masterplan proposals will be held at the following locations:

*Monday 17 January 10am-7pm Precinct Shop, Bennett Precinct, Longton

*Tuesday 18 January 1pm-4pm Bentilee Community Centre, Dividy Road, Bentilee

*Thursday 20 January 10am-1pm Methodist Central Hall, The Strand, Longton

*Saturday 22 January 11am-2pm Strand Passage, The Strand, Longton

*Monday 24 January 2pm-4.30pm Blurton Community Centre, Poplar Drive, Blurton

*Thursday 3 February 11am-2pm Fenton Library, Baker Street, Fenton

*Wednesday 9 February 4pm-7pm Meir Library, Sandon Road, Meir

*Monday 14 February 4pm-7pm Longton Library, Lightwood Road, Longton

*Every Monday and Friday between Monday 17 January and Monday 28 February 10am – 1pm at the Precinct Shop, Bennett Precinct, Longton

First Glimpse of New Eco Homes in Stoke-on-Trent

Plans to transform historic Victorian terraces in Stoke-on-Trent in to eco-homes are to go on display for the first time.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council and ctd architects, who are leading on the designs for the properties, will be exhibiting plans for the new homes at City Waterside Community Centre, in Dresden Street, between 6pm and 8pm on Tuesday, 11 January.

The project, which will see a series of Victorian terraced properties transformed in to three and four bedroom houses, has been put forward following consultation with residents keen to see larger family homes created in the area.

It will focus on a row of 15 terraced properties in Balfour Street, Hanley, which have unique heritage features. The proposal is for the properties to be converted into larger family homes which will all feature high specification eco-friendly measures such as solar panels, rainwater storage systems and under-floor heating.

“This is an exciting opportunity to transform the traditional terraced properties into state-of-the-art family homes. It is part of a larger development opportunity in the City Waterside East area and will complement neighbouring housing schemes creating high quality, eco-friendly family homes at the edge of the city centre. An earlier consultation with residents found that there was a real desire to keep the historic building fronts in Balfour Street while creating larger family homes in the area. The drop-in session will give people the chance to have a look at the plans and make comments and suggestions on the proposals.”

The proposals, which will see the former terraced properties completely transformed internally while maintaining the traditional heritage frontages, include around 16 energy efficient features both inside and outside the property.

At a consultation event for the City Waterside masterplan in the summer revamping the homes in Balfour Street was the preferred option for residents. The scheme received 97 per cent approval from the community.

Chris Hesketh, conservation architect at Leek-based ctd architects, welcomed the opportunity to be involved in helping Renew and Stoke-on-Trent City Council to deliver heritage-led community regeneration. He said: “The project is hoped to be a useful exemplar for other terraced properties in North Staffordshire. It is a ‘common-sense’ approach which will offer contemporary energy efficient family homes, whilst reinforcing the special heritage character of these distinctive terraces. This is ‘sustainable heritage’ at its most practical.”

Balfour Street falls within the City Waterside area of regeneration. Other plans in the area include the development of more than 90 homes in the Canal Quarter and a further 200 homes on the Wedgwood Gardens site.

Business District Takes A Step Closer As Planning Application Submitted

Plans for a new city centre business district have been submitted to Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Genr8 Developments, the city council’s development partner behind the new mixed use regeneration project in Stoke-on-Trent, has submitted an outline planning application for the initial 50,000 sq m of development.

The scheme, although office led, will create a thriving mixed use business quarter in the city centre with a variety of office, retail, leisure and public space.

The application, which provides outline details for the first phases of the scheme, follows a consultation event in November where residents were given the chance to see initial design proposals.

Mike Smith, of Genr8, said the planning application is a significant step forward in the delivery of a much needed new business quarter for the city centre.

“The Central Business District will create a vibrant quarter in the heart of the city centre where offices, retail and leisure sit side by side. The planning application is a significant step in the delivery of the scheme and outlines a business district which offers a thriving day and night time economy with complementing businesses, shops, bars, restaurants and public open spaces of the highest quality. We believe that it will be the catalyst for further regeneration throughout the city centre.”

The business district, which is expected to eventually include up to 100,000sqm of business space in the city centre, will be delivered in phases over the next 10 to 15 years. Phase 1 is expected to focus on up to 10,000sqm of development space. The site lies behind the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery and near to the new Tesco store off Broad Street and the regional shopping centre being developed at the former East West site.

“The Business District is designed to complement other regeneration schemes across the city. In the heart of the city centre it will offer a mixture of business and will complement retail and leisure facilities. The new Tesco store is nearby with the refurbished Mitchell Memorial Theatre due to open next year and work starting on the first phase of the East West redevelopment – the bus station – starting on site in March.”

A decision on the outline planning application is due early next year. Detailed designs are then due to be submitted later in the year as part of a detailed planning application. Further consultation events to review plans for the scheme will be arranged appropriately.

Consultations, Revelations and Common Sense

Tonight [Monday] I attended the hastily-called public meeting to discuss the implications of the closure of Meir CEC.

This was a result of a situation not far from Daniel in the Lion’s Den a few weeks ago, when cabinet member Mervyn Smith turned up for an informal Let’s Talk budget event to be confronted by about 100 Meir residents, wanting to know why the Community Education Centre was potentially under threat of closure as part of the budget process.

Before I go any futher, for those who aren’t aware of what is happening, in advance of the government issuing the City Council with the details of the amount of money it is going to be given for the next year’s budget, and pre-empting the fact that it is likely to be a good deal less than that previously received, the Cabinet have collated a consultation scheme of savings of varying severity, to deal with the anticpated shortfall. These have been sorted into various traffic light colours, both dependent upon how easy they are to achieve and also how much money they would save. At the far end of the spectrum, a big reduction in money received could lead to the loss of several libraries, a significant proportion of Children’s Centres and numerous other services. As you can imagine, opening the books in such a way has caused a bit of a splash.

Whether I agree with a number of the savings suggested is probably a blog for another day (the short answer is “I don’t”), but for now I just wanted to blog on the implications of closing the Meir CEC for my community, where I live and the area I represent on the Council. I don’t think anyone imagines for a second that shutting such a centre is going to be easy, or that it won’t have an impact on the local community, however what has struck me at both the meetings I have attended at the Meir CEC about the potential closure, is the total lack of common sense exhibited in where Meir is now and the community assets we have.

I was totting up in my mind the other night what I have in my ward ““ 5 pubs, 3 chip shops, 2 high schools and 2 swimming pools, amongst many other things. One high school has been rebuilt at great expense, the other will shut in the next 18 months. Both have a swimming pool, but only one has a swimming pool that you could swim in (the other is apparently not fit for use) – and it’s not at the school you would think it was at.

Within less than half a mile of each other, I have a Local Office that is really too small for purpose, a library, a youth centre and a purpose built Community Education Centre, 3 of which have had piles of money spent on them within the last 10 years ““ but at no point did anyone stop and consider that maybe, just maybe, amalgamating premises might be a good idea? This situation makes me want to bang my head on the floor, because it means we are in a really difficult corner with where we go now. I don’t want to lose any facilities in my ward if we can save them, but the complete and utter lack of foresight in planning is just unbelievable.

The funny thing is that at both meetings, this crazy situation has been raised by numerous members of the public. They want to know why we haven’t amalgamated services into a couple of premises, because after all, it’s common sense. Perhaps harking back to my blog last week about feeling you have to defend the Council just because you’re part of it now, I really shake my head in dispair at those whose footsteps I follow in. What were you thinking??

So, back to tonight’s meeting. It was quite nice to see the portfolio holder for community services, Terry Follows, saying he didn’t want to see the Meir CEC shut, and I hope that he will join with the local councillors of Meir in making that very clear to the Cabinet and the rest of the Council. However, I also hope he ponders on where strategic thinking comes into play and uses his portfolio, which is in a pivotal position with relation to community services, to really think out of the box. Places like Meir are relying on it.