Gunge Time for Stoke-on-Trent’s Chief Executive

Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Chief Executive will take one for the team in aid of Red Nose Day.

John van de Laarschot will place his rather expensive rear end on a stool and the public will be invited to take aim and throw a sponge at a target – successful hits will see the head of the officer core covered in gunge – literally!

It’s all for charity and it’s taking place this coming Friday 18th March on the Sainsbury’s car park, London Road, Stoke.

John will be spend half an hour in the firing line at around 10am and will join members of the Sainbury’s staff to raise as much money as possible for Comic relief.

700 City Council staff may be tempted to mess JVDL’s hair up but it is unlikely that there will be sufficient time to hurl 35 million sponges!

In all seriousness though Pits n Pots applaude our CEO for taking the time to engage in some light hearted fun and in doing so expelling the myth that our council officers sit in ivory towers.

The only question remaining is why the rest of the Directors and heads of service aren’t putting their heads above the parapet.

“I think it’s worth half an hour of anyone’s time to raise some money for a good cause ““ but I can’t say it’s going to be a pleasant experience!

“In all seriousness though, it’s important that we do all we can to raise money for good causes, and in this case, support Red Nose Day, which has such a huge impact on poverty, disease and hunger here in Stoke-on-Trent, nationally and overseas.

“I’m proud to be able to support Red Nose Day, I just need to remember to bring a change of clothes on Friday!”

Health and Safety have confirmed the rumour that the gunge contains peroxide is not true.

The Chief Executive is relieved as it may have turned his hair yellow……… bum bum – we are here all week!

West Enders Set For Life of Luxury at New Extra Care Village

A state of the art extra care housing complex in Stoke Town which has been developed by Staffordshire Housing Association to provide high quality homes for older Stoke-on-Trent residents is now complete.

The first residents have just moved into West End Village, and others will move in throughout January and February.

The complex has been designed by Stoke-on-Trent based architects, Hulme Upright Manning.

It was constructed by GB Building Solutions Limited. 700 jobs were generated on site during the construction phase and 19 young people were taught construction skills.

The £18 million scheme has received investment of £7,292,500 through the government’s Homes and Communities Agency. Other funding has included £1,500,000 from Stoke on Trent City Council, £500,000 from RENEW and £11,100 from the Carbon Trust. The remaining costs have been met by Staffordshire Housing Association.

West End Village is built on the former site of the Bilton pottery works which had been derelict for several years.

The village has 100 apartments ““ 80 for rent and 20 for sale ““ and boasts a range of high specification communal facilities including a restaurant, lounge bar, coffee bar, unisex hair salon, gym, therapy suite and a general store.

Staffordshire Housing Association pioneered the “village living” concept for older people at Bradeley, Stoke-on-Trent, in the 1990s, and now have four high quality villages for residents to choose from.

“West End Village makes a significant contribution to the regeneration of Stoke town, with high quality accommodation for older people.

Residents of the village live independently in their own apartments while enjoying top class communal facilities.

They also have the assurance that care and support services are available at the village 24 hours a day ““ catering for residents’ changing needs.”

Tristram Hunt, MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, praised the developers of the new extra care village for putting residents’ needs at the heart of the project.

“I welcome the opening of this new development as part of the regeneration of Stoke town. I am very pleased that Staffordshire Housing Association has put the needs of their residents at the heart of the project. The development has been designed with community space in mind and I am encouraged it will allow residents to maintain their independence and access the relevant care should they need it.”

A time capsule was buried on the site during construction containing items suggested by children from nearby Stoke Minster Primary School including an MP3 player, a recipe for Staffordshire oatcakes and a 2010 shopping list.

Former Stoke-on-Trent historic pottery site to get new lease of life

Developers are being given the opportunity to breathe new life into a former historic pottery site in the heart of a Stoke-on-Trent town.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is calling for expressions of interest for Spode, in Elenora Street, Stoke. The 10 acre historic former pottery site, owned by the city council, is at the heart of Stoke Town next to the town hall and neighbouring University Quarter.

The site and its historic buildings is a focus of the Stoke Town Masterplan which is currently being produced by URBED, with DTZ, Arup and Gehl architects.

The city council is asking developers to send in expressions of interest for developing the site by 14 February so that developer interest can be reviewed alongside the masterplan process.

“The former Spode pottery site is an intrinsic part of Stoke Town. At the moment the city council is exploring all the options available for not only the town as a whole but the Spode site as well. It is important that this process is interlinked.”

Developers have until 14 February to register their interest at www.stoke.gov.uk/spode. Respondents will then be asked to provide further details on their vision for the site and how they propose to deliver it.

URBED was appointed to produce the Stoke Town masterplan in September last year. An exhibition last month gave residents a first glimpse at initial proposals for the development of the town. Once comments from the exhibition have been analysed preferred options for the masterplan are due to be unveiled in Spring.

Spode ““ a world renowned, iconic name in design and ceramics ““ was based at the Spode Works site until 2008. It occupies a relatively rectangular and level site of almost 10 acres. Approximately half the site is cleared, creating a potential 5 acre development site; the remaining site area is occupied by predominantly listed buildings of both heritage merit and development potential.

Portmeirion Pottery, based in Stoke Town, acquired the Spode brand in 2008 and continues to produce both the ranges that made the Spode name as well as contemporary Spode designs.

Progress on the Stoke Town masterplan and the current options is available at www.urbed.coop/stoketownmasterplan.

Plans Go On Display For Regeneration of Stoke-on-Trent Town

Proposals for the regeneration of a Stoke-on Trent town are going on display for the first time as the city council explores options for bringing a former historic pottery site back in to use.

On Wednesday, 1 December, and Saturday, 4 December, URBED the team which is developing a masterplan for the regeneration of Stoke Town, will be asking residents what they would like to see in the town.

A double-decker Routemaster bus will be touring Stoke Town on both days showcasing options for the masterplan. Plans include details on possible new residential areas, retail spaces and ways of incorporating improved extra public space in to the town centre. As part of the masterplan consultation Stoke-on-Trent City Council is also asking for residents and developers to come forward with ideas for how the 10 acre Spode site can be developed to kick start the regeneration of the town. The city council will be asking for expressions of interest and suggestions for how the former Spode site can be brought back in to use both in the short and long term.

“The event is designed to explore all the options available to boost development and regeneration in Stoke Town. The town has a wealth of potential. The former Spode pottery site is just one example of the town’s heritage appeal and has real commercial potential. The masterplan is designed to look at ways in which the town can be developed to boost footfall and create complementing uses that will regenerate the historic town.”

URBED was appointed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council in September and this is the first time residents have been able to get a glimpse of the proposals being put forward for the development of the town. Following the consultation comments will be used to develop a more detailed preferred option for the town. This detailed design is then due to be shared with residents early next year.

“The aim of the masterplan is to develop a shared vision and strategy for the town centre and former Spode pottery site based on an imaginative and deliverable set of proposals. We would welcome your views on the options to ensure we are developing ideas that meet your aspirations for the future of Stoke Town.”

The double decker Routemaster bus will be at the following locations:

Wednesday 1 December:

10.30am to 12.30pm – Staffordshire University, Leek Road Site, Opposite the Students Union

1pm to 8pm – Stoke Town Market Square

Saturday 4 December:

10.30am to 13.30pm – Stoke Town Market Square

14.00pm to 15.00pm – Former Victoria Ground ““ junction of Campbell Road and Fletcher Street

15.15pm to 4pm – Boothen Gardens ““ in between Villa Street and Summer Street

The plans can also be viewed online at www.urbed.com.

Prestigious Team To Revitalise Historic Stoke Town

The design team behind the popular Bristol waterfront development Temple Quay 2 are set to breathe new life in to the heart of a historic Stoke-on-Trent town.

URBED, which has played a successful role in major regeneration projects across the country, has been chosen to lead the Stoke Town masterplan.

The team, which includes Jan Gehl Architects, who designed Copenhagen’s public spaces, DTZ and Arup and is led by Manchester based URBED, is looking at ways to revitalise the current town centre as well as the neighbouring world renowned former pottery works Spode.

The legacy of the town’s ceramic heritage will be brought to life through contemporary uses of the remarkable heritage buildings and redevelopment opportunities offered by the Spode site. Ideas being explored through the masterplanning process include Creative Courts and Spode Lanes – made up of alleyways of cobbled streets with small independent shops and creative art spaces ““ as well as Circus Squares, with open space for street theatre and dance.

More immediate uses for the important site will also be woven into the masterplanning process with a combination of leisure uses, creative low cost studio spaces and exhibition and performance space all creating possible short term uses.

“The appointment of URBED is a significant step in the regeneration of the historic town of Stoke. The team have worked on successful projects across the country and I am keen to see the vision they have for transforming Stoke.”

The appointment follows a public consultation on the five short-listed teams’ concept drawings which showed residents were keen to see heritage buildings brought back to life, improved transport connections, a wider range of retail, quality open space and public realm, a pedestrian friendly town centre and regeneration plans that deliver jobs.

Over the next six months the team will pull together a detailed masterplan for Stoke Town incorporating the Spode site and connections to the University Quarter and Stoke Station. The designs, which will incorporate short-term uses as well as a longer term vision, will be worked up in consultation with the community and potential investors to make sure that it is a community led plan with real deliverability.

“As a team we are really excited about this new project and the opportunity to design the future plans for the historic town. This is an important heritage site and it is vital that the masterplan respects the past while creating something new and exciting. Our masterplanning approach is based on the three R’s ““ first rediscovering what was there before, then repairing the tears in the urban fabric before renewing the area with a new and contemporary urban layer.”

The masterplan will guide investment in to the town over the coming 10 to 15 years. It will also show how the historic town centre pottery site, Spode Works, can be redeveloped to play a significant role in the regeneration of Stoke Town.

Spode Works, in Elenora Street, Stoke, lays claim to the longest continuous period of pottery production. Built in 1759 the 10 acre site consists of buildings of international heritage significance and offers a unique opportunity to develop a mixed-use scheme which will lead to the regeneration of the town.

Stoke Town is home to Stoke Minster where some of the town’s most famous potters are buried including Josiah Spode and Josiah Wedgwood. The town is also home to the city’s Civic Centre, railway station and the rapidly developing University Quarter.

Spode Works, in the heart of the town, is probably best known for its blue-printed pottery and Willow Pattern. The company also invented bone china, which has been the standard British porcelain now for more than two hundred years. The Spode brand is still in production with Portmeirion Pottery continuing to produce many of the collections in the iconic brand.

The Spode Works site was acquired by the company’s founder Josiah Spode in 1776 and was operational as the Spode Works until 2008. The factory underwent extensive rebuilding and enlargement in the 1820′s and 1830′s. The more interesting buildings, in the courtyard in the northwest of the site, were Grade II listed in December 2007. The site is now recognised as being of national importance. It offers a remarkable opportunity for sensitive redevelopment in order to lead the regeneration of Stoke Town.

City Council Buys Pottery Site As Part Of Plans To Transform Town

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has purchased the historic Spode pottery site as part of plans to transform Stoke Town.

The former pottery site, which has remained empty since the company went into administration in 2008 – although the historic Spode brand is once again being produced in the town by Portmeirion Group – will now be brought back in to use as regeneration plans for Stoke Town get under way.

Councillor Mohammed Pervez, leader of the city council, said:

“Today is a significant step in the transformation of this historic town and will provide an exciting opportunity to create a development which will breathe new life into the area.

“The former pottery site is at the heart of Stoke Town and houses a wealth of historic buildings on the 10 acre site. The aim is to bring the site back in to use as quickly as possible.”

The city council is currently under going a tender process to find a design team for the Stoke Town masterplan. The plan, which will help to guide investment in the town over the next 5 to 15 years, will focus on ways to bring the former pottery site back in to use and connect it with the University Quarter, mainline railway station and existing town centre.

Councillor Mervin Smith, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for city development (regeneration), said:

“Spode offers a fantastic opportunity to revitalise Stoke town and it is important that any regeneration undertaken is sympathetic to the history of the town and in keeping with the needs of the rest of the town centre. We are currently in the process of developing interim uses for the site while a more strategic and long term vision is completed.”

Spode Works, in Elenora Street, Stoke, lays claim to the longest continuous period of pottery production. Spode has become an iconic brand across the world and continues to be made in Stoke Town by pottery giants Portmeirion Group who took over the brand in 2009. Built from 1759 the 10 acre site consists of stunning buildings of international heritage significance and offers a unique opportunity to develop a mixed-use scheme which will lead to the regeneration of the town.

Michael Haynes, Group Sales and Marketing Director, Portmeirion Group said:

“We are very pleased to see that the plans to develop the original Spode factory site are progressing well. It is vitally important to the future of the town that we make the best use of what we have and the regeneration of this architecturally unique historic site is excellent news for the local community and businesses alike.

“With regards to the actual Spode brand, we are delighted to report that once again Spode products are being made in Stoke-on-Trent in our own factory. Our belief in the importance of the Spode brand has been proved right with a very positive response from around the world. Spode and Stoke-on-Trent are inextricably linked and I am confident that our success with the brand will be repeated for the factory.”

Alan Shenton, who has worked as a security officer at the Spode site for 8 years said he was pleased the site would now be brought back to use.

He said:

“Most of my working life has been spent at the Spode factory. Like everybody who has been involved with Spode I’m immensely proud of its history and delighted to help play a part in keeping the site safe and bringing it back to life again.”

Five teams have currently been shortlisted for the Stoke Town masterplan. A decision on the final selection is expected to be made later this month by a panel of experts lead by the NSRP and advised by our Commission for the Built Environment (CABE) advisor, John Pringle of Pringle Richards Sharratt Limited.

The masterplan will guide investment in to the town over the coming 5 to 15 years. It will also show how the historic town centre pottery site, Spode Works, can be redeveloped to play a significant role in the regeneration of Stoke Town.

Steam Train Event At City Library

To celebrate the federation of the six towns this month residents will be able to enjoy a free train ride as part of an event looking at the age of steam railways.

The event will be held at Stoke Library, South Wolfe Street on Wednesday 28th July. The free train rides, which will take place in the square outside Stoke Library, will be provided courtesy of North Staffs Model Engineering Society. Furthermore, Stoke Library will be hosting displays and activities relating to steam railways from the early 1900s and the North Staffordshire Railways.

These include:

A North Staffordshire Railway display of pictures, documents and memorabilia

Model railway exhibition

Display of fiction books published in the Edwardian era available to borrow including “ËœThe Railway Children’ by E. Nesbit

“ËœGet Into Reading’ session between 2pm and 3pm where guests can relax and listen to short stories and poems with a railway theme read aloud by a trained facilitator

Storytime at 10.30am and 1.30pm and other children’s activities

The event will take place between 10am and 3pm. It looks set to be an enjoyable day, not only for Roy Cropper-like train enthusiasts, but for all with plenty to do for all the family.

Also, during the event visitors will be introduced to ‘Space Hop’ the national summer reading challenge for children that runs in all Stoke-on-Trent Libraries throughout the summer holidays.

‘Space Hop’ is free to join at any library in Stoke-on-Trent and all children who join will receive a foldout poster, stickers and a moving image membership card. ‘Space Hop’ will begin in libraries on Saturday 17th July and run until mid September.

If you would like further details on the Steam Train event or ‘Space Hop’ please contact Janet Eardley, Community Librarian on 01782 238410 or Amanda Carlin, Library Manager on 01782 238446.

Proposals For Stoke Town Revamp Go On Show

Today Stoke-on-Trent City Council announced that during the coming week residents will be given the opportunity to help choose who will create proposals for Stoke town’s revamp.

Between Tuesday 6th July and Saturday 10th July six short-listed designs for the historic town’s regeneration will be on show at the town library.

Residents will be asked to comment on the six proposals to ensure the correct team is chosen to help revitalise Stoke town.

Each team must outline proposals for the famous Spode works site and how this will connect with and help breathe life into the town centre.

According to Stoke-on-Trent Council: “The masterplan will guide investment in to the town over the coming 10 to 15 years. It will also show how the historic town centre pottery site, Spode Works, can be redeveloped to play a significant role in the regeneration of Stoke Town.”

The final selection will be made in July by a panel of experts lead by the North Staffs Regeneration Partnership and advised by Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Commission for the Built Environment advisor, John Pringle. All comments made by residents during the forthcoming consultation period will be taken into account.

Historic Town Of Stoke To Get New Lease Of Life

A plan is to be created for the future redevelopment of one of the historic towns of Stoke-on-Trent.

The North Staffordshire Regeneration Partnership (NSRP) has advertised for a company to create a masterplan for Stoke Town.

The masterplan will guide investment in to the town over the coming 10 to 15 years. It will also show how the historic town centre pottery site, Spode Works, can be redeveloped to play a significant role in the regeneration of Stoke Town.

Spode Works, in Elenora Street, Stoke, lays claim to the longest continuous period of pottery production. Built in 1759 the 10 acre site consists of buildings of international heritage significance and offers a unique opportunity to develop a mixed-use scheme which will lead to the regeneration of the town.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council, part of the NSRP which is leading the £1.5 billion regeneration programme across North Staffordshire, has in principle agreed the basis of a purchase of the Spode Works site. Through careful design, the site could be connected to the Kingsway car park site, which is next to the Civic Centre, bringing the site further into the town centre.

The partnership is now looking for a multi disciplinary team of architects, engineers and environmental experts to draw up the masterplan for the future of Stoke Town and the Spode site. Teams have until 12 April to submit expressions of interest through the Local Government eTendering Service at www.wmcoe.bravosolution.co.uk. Short-listed teams will then be selected by early May.

Kevin Bell, Stoke town regeneration manager, said:

“Stoke Town enjoys a wealth of industrial heritage, has great connections with the University Quarter and Stoke railway station and is the civic heart of the city. We are taking an aspirational approach to the town and looking to attract high profile architects and designers to create a scheme that breathes new life in to the area. Inspired design can generate quality solutions to attract the investment needed to develop a thriving town full of opportunity.”

Stoke Town is home to Stoke Minster where some of the town’s most famous potters are buried including Josiah Spode and Josiah Wedgwood. The town is also home to the city’s Civic Centre, railway station and the rapidly developing University Quarter.

Spode Works, in the heart of the town, is probably best known for its blue-printed pottery and Willow Pattern. The company also invented bone china, which has been the standard British porcelain now for more than two hundred years. The Spode brand is still in production with Portmeirion Pottery continuing to produce many of the collections in the iconic brand.

The Spode Works site was acquired by the company’s founder Josiah Spode in 1776 and was operational as the Spode Works until 2008. The factory underwent extensive rebuilding and enlargement in the 1820′s and 1830′s. The more interesting buildings, in the courtyard in the northwest of the site, were Grade II listed in December 2007. The site is now recognised as being of national importance. It offers a remarkable opportunity for sensitive redevelopment in order to lead the regeneration of Stoke Town.

re:mind-ing people of Stoke town

Stoke town will be lit up by a performance of dance, music and animation later this month when “re:mind” takes place.

Supported by The Arts Council and Stoke on Trent City Council, “re:mind” takes place at 7.30 pm on Saturday 12 December in the Market Square, South Wolfe Street, Stoke Town. “re:mind” is free to attend.

Inspired by the memories of Stoke Town, the place and the people, “re:mind” is part of a long term programme of performances that celebrate Stoke town, and aims to recapture, rekindle and regenerate its spirit.

“re:mind’s” lead artists, Paul Rogerson, Clare Reynolds and Sarah Nadin are North Staffordshire based and have collaborated with other local performers, artists and musicians to develop a performance that is designed to enlighten and inspire the community.

The audience will be in a unique position, as they will be at the centre of the performance, which will take place all around them. There are only a few spaces available for this area, so people are being advised to get there early so they can take part.

Councillor Hazel Lyth, cabinet member for economic development and culture, said: “Stoke has a long history of creativity, and the talented artists who have put together “re:mind” are an extension of that history. They are celebrating our great past and pointing the way to the future of the town by tapping into its potential as a heartland of creativity.”

Paul Rogerson from “re:mind” explained the background to the performance:
“As a group we could see the potential of Stoke Town and approached the Regeneration Team to develop an innovative, entertaining way of interpreting that potential and the great story told by the memories of the people of the town. We are delighted to have been supported by the Arts Council and Stoke on Trent City Council in delivering a performance which we believe will captivate our audience and leave a legacy of inspiration as the regeneration of the town gathers pace.”