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.

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.

Boost To Business As Development Takes A Step Closer

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has confirmed its commitment to deliver a business district in the city centre.

At a meeting of the cabinet on Thursday, 29th July, councillors approved to sign a development agreement for the 1.2million square foot proposed Central Business District.

Mohammed Pervez, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said the move was an important milestone in the progress of the project.

He said:

“Today’s decision is a significant step in the creation of a new Central Business District in Stoke-on-Trent.

“The proposed development is of the highest quality and one the city council is firmly committed to delivering with its partners. It will help to transform not only Stoke-on-Trent city centre but also the wider North Staffordshire region into a more prosperous and successful place.

“It will create more than 4,000 jobs for local people and provide career opportunities for students from our new University Quarter.”

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is currently under going a strategic property review which will help to determine whether it may be financially viable to house some council staff from a variety of locations across the city to a central location. Other options for an anchor tenant for the first phase are also being reviewed with an agreement in place between developer Genr8 and the city council to aim for progress by July 2011.

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

“It is important that we carry on exploring all options for the Central Business District. We are in challenging economical times and it is important that we make the right decisions for the residents of our city. The Central Business District will attract investment and businesses to the city centre. This in turn will help to boost other projects such as the East West Centre helping to create a thriving city centre with extra opportunities and footfall.”

John Early, Genr8 chairman, said:

“We are working with the NSRP and its partners to create a Central Business District that will put Stoke-on-Trent firmly on the national map as a location to do business.

“To do this we are focussing on quality, design excellence and integrating the Central Business District with the city’s other regeneration plans. This will ensure that Stoke-on-Trent is well placed to take advantage of the economic recovery.

“We are now working extremely hard with our partners to identify and realise pre-lettings for the scheme that will underpin the first phase of development and be the catalyst for further expansion and growth”

The agreement means that a planning application is now expected to be submitted by the end of the year with the aim of securing an anchor tenant in the next 12 months.

Proposals for the Central Business District include:

* 750,000 square feet of “grade A” office space
* 60,000 square feet of leisure and retail space
* 250 hotel beds
* 80 apartments
* 230,000 square feet of high quality public space

The design will integrate with the rest of Stoke-on-Trent city centre and the wider North Staffordshire conurbation helping to create a city centre that is strong and able to compete nationally.

Public open space will be designed to provide strong connections to the rest of the city centre, including the main shopping area, the planned new Realis Estates £285 million East West Centre, the Cultural Quarter and University Quarter.

Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Tristram Hunt On Regeneration & The Intangible Stuff

Newly-elected Stoke-on-Trent MP Tristram Hunt explains why continued government investment in education and skills is so vital for ‘cities in transition’

Struggling cities”Å¡ challenging cities”Å¡ cities in transition”Å¡ these are today’s buzz words for the public policy of managing change in industrial cities.

In America, the examples of Detroit, Gary and Buffalo have all been cited to support the idea of right-sizing cities and rolling back the urban footprint of declining manufacturing centres. In Britain, radical opinion-formers on the right have urged a mass transhumance from the post industrial north to the financial services south ““ or, at least, they did until the bubble burst.

But while these ideas might look good in a seminar room, they fail to take account either of the economic resilience of many manufacturing centres or the political requirement to support established communities. As the newly-elected MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, these are the issues I am beginning to grapple with.

As an historian, I am more than aware of the heroic past of the Potteries ““ how the soils of North Staffordshire gave birth to the Industrial Revolution; how its canals began the transport revolution; and how the kilns of Etruria pioneered modern factory production. But now, as a politician, I am also realising we need to be aggressive about exploiting that history in order to build a sustainable future.

For there is no doubt that while the likes of Sheffield and Derby ““ and, of course, Birmingham and Manchester ““have regenerated over the last 15 years, Stoke-on-Trent has not enjoyed the same success. Part of this is down to a different economic trajectory as North Staffordshire’s staple industries continued to suffer economic readjustment well into the 1990s. It was One Nation ““ and Michael Heseltine ““ that closed the last of the coalmines. The steel foundries followed soon after, and the past 20 years has seen the numbers employed in the pottery industry fall from around 50,000 to little more than 5,000.

But politics is also to blame. Weak councils ““ followed by long periods of introspection over the merits of elected mayors ““ combined with a proud if politically unstable culture of independent representatives, has put off investment. While the strong, concentrated leadership of Sir Howard Bernstein and Sir Richard Leese has reaped dividends in Manchester, the so-called “curse of the Potteries” (of relentless political change) has cost the city dear. Unfortunately, we still remain in a period of relative political uncertainty within the city but next year’s new governance system ““ of only 44 councillors with four-year terms of office ““ offers a longed-for chance of stable leadership. And Stoke-on-Trent’s three Labour MPs ““ myself together with Rob Flello and Joan Walley ““ are already working closely as a Potteries bloc.

Yet the real key to success lies in changing a culture of scepticism toward education and skills. As with many of Britain’s manufacturing or port cities, where young men and women could walk into jobs at 16 in mills, docks or factories with little need for formal education, Stoke-on- Trent has not had a history of valuing learning. Yet those jobs in the pot banks and the mines have gone, often to China or Indonesia, and the jobs of tomorrow are going to demand education, training and apprenticeships.

This is the rationale behind Labour’s phenomenal investment in the city ““ from SureStart centres to refitting primary schools, from a new 6th Form College to the University Quarter around Staffordshire University. The Labour Party was also committed to spending £250m on a Building Schools for the Future programme for all secondary schools, which could now be cut by the Tory/LibDem coalition.

For it is increasingly clear that sustainable urban regeneration is not about shimmering new piazzas and al-fresco dining opportunities; it is about investment in human capital. And far more effective than big public sector back-office job allocation is the slow revival of private sector enterprise.

Much of this is often down to the intangible stuff of regeneration. Yes, you need a professional council, competitive rates, decent housing and transport facilities, and a skilled workforce. But you also need a sense of “a city on the up” and today, Stoke-on-Trent has that.

As the financial services bubble finally bursts and Britain realises it still needs to make things, the Potteries is well-placed to prosper. Ceramics jobs are coming back to the area, thanks partly to the anti-competitive costs of currency swings and partly to the commercial advantage of a “Made in Stoke-on-Trent” brand. With it, we need to rebuild the engineering and manufacturing base which once underpinned the industry. The new £400m University Hospital of North Staffordshire is bringing skilled medical and scientific professionals to the area, while jobs in leisure, tourism, education and retail are also growing. But the intangibles are also there ““ Stoke City storming the Premier League; the return of the Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire Hoard to its Mercian resting place; even the Hanley Regatta”Å¡ celebrating our canal heritage.