A masterplan outlining the vision for the future of Stoke-on-Trent railway station has been unveiled.
The plan, announced at the MIPIM UK property conference, builds on regeneration and development work taking place across the city, and outlines how the station has the potential to become a key transport hub not just for the city, but for the wider region.
A series of potential developments to the station, and the land surrounding it, have been drawn up to cover the next 25 years, with later phases centred on the huge impact High Speed 2 (HS2) would bring to Stoke-on-Trent. They have been developed with key partners including Network Rail, who own the station, and train operators. The improvements are in response to the estimated growth in rail travel in the future, the city’s own growth plans and making sure Stoke-on-Trent is in a prime position to reap the benefits that HS2 will bring.
HS2 Ltd is encouraging local authorities to start considering masterplans which look not only at how stations will change, but also provide a vision for economic growth in the surrounding area. By unveiling its plan, Stoke-on-Trent City Council has moved forward ahead of the game.
Assuming the minimum of two HS2 trains an hour that the city council is campaigning for, the masterplan envisages building two new platforms at the Grade-II listed station, a new north entrance and concourse and commercial/residential developments on land surrounding the station.
Other potential improvements put forward as part of the masterplan include a new multi-storey car park; scope for a hotel development; re-routing the majority of traffic away from Station Road to make it a more pedestrian-friendly area; promoting residential-led developments alongside the canal and creating an iconic bridge across the canal and A500 to connect the station to Stoke town centre, the fast-emerging Spode development and the city centre.
Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage at the city council, said: “Stoke-on-Trent railway station has some fantastic buildings with real heritage and character. There is huge potential here to increase passenger numbers, improve on-station facilities and drive regeneration and development across the surrounding area.
“This is about us starting to look now at what is needed to make the station a key transport hub for the region that builds on the city’s own investment and is ready for the game-changer that will be HS2. A bigger, better station ready for the transport and associated demands we know the future will bring can act as a catalyst for the area, bringing with it economic benefits for the whole city.
“The masterplan is a first step towards securing funding – it highlights our aspirations for the station and our city and sets a quality threshold and an outline development plan to stimulate and guide future investment. There is a real opportunity here to not only transform the station but also some of the land surrounding it with commercial, leisure and residential developments, which will bring with them jobs and growth.
“Stoke-on-Trent is changing rapidly and there is a real confidence about the city now, which is being shown in investments at key sites like Spode and the Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone.”
The masterplan has been jointly funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and The Constellation Partnership – of which the authority is one of nine members – comprising a group of councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships across Staffordshire and Cheshire which are working together to drive investment to the area.
With HS2, Stoke-on-Trent would have rapid connections to both Birmingham and Manchester as well as a journey time of less than an hour to central London.
Duncan Sutherland, a non-executive director on the board of HS2 Ltd, welcomed the development of a masterplan for Stoke-on-Trent rail station.
Speaking at MIPIM UK, he said: “It’s really important local authorities get their act together now. I remember going to Lille in the late 1970s when it was a very poor place and all the industries had gone. What the mayor did was get all the local authorities together and lobbied to get the high speed line from London to Paris and Brussels to go through Lille. And because they started early, Lille is now the third biggest business centre in the whole of France. They put that down almost entirely to being in the centre between Paris, Brussels and London, and I see Stoke-on-Trent, Crewe and Stafford all in that kind of same situation between Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and London.
“The Constellation Partnership is incredibly important to the UK. It’s right in the middle of our HS2 network between the North West and the Midlands and therefore has the ability to be a really big economic driver. There’s no point in building a railway unless you get economic growth, and you need the mechanisms locally that can come together as partnerships to help drive that growth forward, which is about housing, education, and right across the board.
“Masterplans have to be about more than just the station. Economic growth won’t just come from the stations – the stations are the catalysts. Therefore it’s about what happens around the stations that is going to be incredibly important. Masterplans have to cover a fairly wide area and show how development is going to happen. It’s really important that HS2 works with local authorities and that councils are driving it forward for their own communities.”
The city council has worked on the masterplan with Mott McDonald, a global engineering and development consultancy.
Kevin Riley, projects director for transport at Mott McDonald, said: “Through a confident re-imagination of the assets of Stoke-on-Trent, combined with the potential of new and improved infrastructure including HS2, Stoke-on-Trent is on the cusp of a generation of change with an outcome of quality of life, employment and investment opportunities that is second to none.
“HS2 is clearly a major pump primer and it will make the city an even more competitive destination for business and commuters, the aspiration for achievement in every sector will be raised and we predict it will boost the economy and job numbers.”