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Work starts on Smithfield apartment scheme

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Building work has today got under way on a ground-breaking 11-storey city centre residential development – the first of its kind in Stoke-on-Trent and the West Midlands.

The development, which will consist of 151 ‘build to rent’ one and two-bedroom apartments, is being built at Smithfield and will transform the quality of the city living offer in Stoke-on-Trent, as well as provide a significant boost for footfall and the economy.

The scheme is being delivered by Genr8 Developments in partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s housing company Fortior Homes, which will own the building. The scheme is set for completion in late 2019, with the first residents moving in the following year.

Cllr Randy Conteh, cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “The start of building work signals a major milestone in the continued transformation of our city. This is the first ‘build-to-rent’ development in Stoke-on-Trent and when complete, it will set a benchmark for high quality city living accommodation.

“These apartments will give the city centre a significant amount of residents in one location, who will increase footfall, support the local businesses and lead to further investment. It’s another indicator that Stoke-on-Trent is on the up and that we are moving the city forward. We’ve got a big appetite at the council for housing growth and making Stoke-on-Trent a city where people want to live, work and visit.”

The residential block will have amenity space and communal gardens. There are also leisure and commercial units planned for the ground floor.

Consultation for the development took place in July 2017 and the planning application was approved by the city council in December 2017. A second building of 126 apartments has also been given planning permission and will form part of a future phase of development.

Cllr David Conway, leader of the city council, said: “With the recent news that both office buildings at Smithfield are now fully let with around 1,200 private and public sector workers, this is the next positive step forward for the site.”

Richard Ingham, partner at Genr8 Developments, said: “This will be an extremely high-quality build-to-rent development that will be unique in both Stoke-on-Trent and the wider region. This, and the soon to be announced next phase, further underlines Smithfield’s position as the region’s office, city living and leisure location of choice. We are delighted to be continuing our partnership with the council who have once again demonstrated their commitment to delivery and quality.”

Fortior Homes is a private housing company established by the council to deliver high quality homes that address identified gaps in the private sector housing market.Further information about Smithfield Stoke-on-Trent can be found at http://www.smithfieldstoke.com/

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Full steam ahead for a new Costa Coffee Drive Thru at Beacon Business Park in Stafford

Posted by | Beacon Business Park, News | No Comments

The construction of a Costa Coffee Drive Thru on Weston Road in Stafford is steaming ahead, following planning approval.

Work on the 0.5-acre site commenced on the 8 January 2018. Located on the Blackheath Lane Roundabout on the A519 Stafford to Uttoxeter road, the Drive Thru is in an ideal location for passing traffic.

The venue will further enhance the facilities on the 50-acre development zone of Beacon Business Park and will be a welcome addition for employees on the business park, surrounding businesses and local residents.

There will be seating for 96 customers, including 24 for those who enjoy their coffee al fresco. There will also be 33 parking spaces alongside the drive-through facility. It is expected that the store will provide up to 20 jobs, with recruitment set to begin soon.

The Beacon Development Zone comprises 50 acres of greenfield development land with only a few options remaining:

  • Plot R2A (0.38 acres – greenfield land, suitable for restaurant development)
  • Plot R3A (0.77 acres, prime road frontage development site)
  • Plot 11 (60,234 sq. ft, prime industrial development site)
  • Plot 23A (12,740 sq. ft, prime road frontage development site)

For more information about commercial property for sale in Staffordshire, contact ISE Estates on 01785 256098 or email info@espleys.co.uk.

Business Drop In Event for IRONMAN 70.3 – April 17th

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IronMan2018Local businesses are being invited to a drop-in event in Stafford on 17th April, to see how they can benefit from this year’s IRONMAN 70.3 Staffordshire event.

On Sunday 10 June, the run course and finish line will be in the heart of Stafford town centre for the first time in the event’s history.

Organisers will be on hand to answer questions on the road access surrounding the event, and showing businesses how they can make the most out of having the event in the centre of the town.

There will inevitably be some disruption as some roads will be closed, therefore event organisers wish to work with businesses well in advance to keep any disruption to a minimum, and ensure they can benefit from having an event as big as IRONMAN right on their doorstep.

The full event course details be accessed here.

Drop-in sessions for businesses will be taking place at Staffordshire County Council offices at 1 Staffordshire Place, Stafford ST16 2DH, between 9.30am and 3pm on 17 April 2018.

MORE ABOUT IRONMAN 70.3 STAFFORDSHIRE

Staffordshire Office Buildings Sold

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Three office buildings in Lichfield, Staffordshire have been sold for £10.8m.

Lingfield Assets, represented by Savills, has sold the buildings at Lichfield South to clients of Blue Marble Asset Management.

Totalling 43,000 sq ft, the properties are predominantly let to Voyage 1, Dimension Data Network Services and Ascom (UK). They form part of the wider 23-acre Lichfield South office, technology and leisure park.

The scheme also includes David Lloyd Health & Racquets Club, Holiday Inn Express and various restaurants and cafes, all of which have been developed by Lingfield Assets.

Steve Benson, investment director at Savills, said: “This prime office investment opportunity attracted significant interest thanks to the quality occupier line up and attractive yield.

“We are pleased with the strong sale price achieved on behalf of our client.”

John Griffiths, head of development at Savills Birmingham, provided leasing and development advice on the scheme.

He added: “The institutional sale is testament to the quality and strategic location of this asset, both factors that continue to generate significant occupier interest in the remaining 12 acres.”

Midlands UK Pavilion

Commercial partners and civic leaders hail Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire MIPIM success

Posted by | Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone, i54 South Staffordshire, Lichfield Park, News | No Comments

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire delegation has had its busiest ever year at international property show MIPIM The four-day event saw 70 one-to-one meetings with developers and investors, plus a series of special briefing events and seminars promoting investment opportunities in the area on a global stage.

MIPIM, which takes place in Cannes each year, is the largest gathering of senior leaders from all international property sectors, offering unrivalled access to the greatest number of development projects and sources of capital worldwide. The 2018 event attracted more than 26,000 delegates from more than 100 countries.

Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership joined forces with the nine other LEP areas and other partners across the Midlands Engine region within a Midlands UK pavilion at MIPIM, following a successful pilot at MIPIM 2017. The Midlands UK Pavilion welcomed more than 4,700 visitors, a 57per cent increase on 2017. More than 50 events were hosted by Midlands UK, including panel discussions and showcase presentations, featuring almost 100 speakers from both the public and private sectors.

A total of 68 commercial partners, including the region’s property community, major businesses, airports, science and tech parks, and local universities were involved in Midlands events. Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire’s commercial partners and sponsors included Stoford Developments, Wardell Armstrong, Siemens, Gleeds, Nordic Heat, Staffordshire University, Faithful and Gould, VXFIBER, Network Space, Knights 1759, Solarplicity, A&J Mucklow, Harworth Group and CWC Group.

In addition, the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire team held more than 70 one-to-one meetings with commercial and residential developers, property investors, and decision-makers within government.

Siemens project development director Tim Lowe commented: “I was delighted to be able to participate alongside the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire delegation at MIPIM.  We’ve been very impressed by their ambition, collaborative spirit, and willingness to embrace new technology. This is already leading to some exciting developments in the energy sector in Stoke-on-Trent, and we are working hard to develop further projects in addition to the landmark schemes that are already under way.”

Stoford Developments director Tony Nash commented: “We certainly got great benefit from promoting our development experience in Staffordshire to a wider property market and also sharing investment ideas with both the public and private sector.

“Opportunities for investing in both Staffordshire and Stoke were brought to the fore of our investment plans and without the private-public communication offered by MIPIM we certainly would not have as clear an understanding of the opportunities in Staffordshire.”

CWC Group director Marc Freeman said: “It has been an excellent MIPIM this year, extremely well supported across the board. The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire presence was as strong as ever, with an ever-growing realisation of investment and development which we are proud to sponsor and be a part of in the Ceramic Valley with our land ownerships and developments over the last 12 months.”

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership chairman David Frost CBE said: “This was the most successful MIPIM yet for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. We reaped the benefits of joining forces with the rest of the Midlands region in a Midlands UK pavilion, which raised our profile and led to a dramatic increase in the number of visitors. We were able to achieve a much bigger impact while still retaining our own distinctive identity, and promoted our area with a range of successful and very well attended events.

“It is very important that we keep a continuing flow of new investment into Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and promote growth opportunities to a national and global audience, so that we can create more and better jobs for local people.

“Our central location makes this a great place to live, work, invest and do business, and we made a very impressive case to international investors.”

Stafford Borough Council leader Councillor Patrick Farrington said: “So many comments were made about how ideally placed the borough was geographically, and our excellent accessibility, that Stafford was described by one investor as a ‘hidden gem’. Following our presentations at MIPIM we are no longer hidden!

“The importance of securing commercial investment to create employment opportunities and to enhance the residential development offer to those who are looking to buy or rent in our borough cannot be overstated. The event has proved successful for our community in the past, with the investment by Jaguar Land Rover in Stone coming on the back of a previous visit.”

Councillor Abi Brown, Stoke-on-Trent City Council deputy leader, said: “We were able to showcase the excellent opportunities that our city has to offer to hundreds of developers, investors, partners, influencers and government decision makers. MIPIM is a unique opportunity to do this, to shout about Stoke-on-Trent on a global scale.

“We have prime development-ready sites for investors, backed-up by a team who provide tailor-made solutions to smooth the process for businesses to locate here. We have first-class connectivity across the country and some of the cheapest land and set-up costs in the UK. We showed delegates our ambition and confidence in the city with a serious of bold development opportunities, supported by a wide range of public and private sector partners. We have had several strong enquiries already, less than a week on, and will look forward to these being progressed.”

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said: “This year’s MIPIM has been a resounding success. The feedback from delegates has been really encouraging and our LEP contingent presented a strong case for investing in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.

“Personally I was pleased to launch the Wolverhampton-Staffordshire High Growth Zone which is fast becoming a leading national business hub with transport connections that will be second to none. This was in addition to the Stafford Gateway project – transforming the county town’s economy through employment, housing and leisure development with improved connections through HS2.

“MIPIM has again provided us with an unrivalled opportunity to showcase Staffordshire to global investors and show that we are key drivers in the Midlands Engine. Together we have been able to demonstrate how the region is the economic powerhouse of the UK and that our county is playing a major part in boosting productivity in the Midlands.”

The MIPIM events the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire team were involved with included:

  • The M54 Wolverhampton – Staffordshire High Growth Zone Launch hosted by Councillor Mark Winnington (Staffordshire County Council) and Tim Johnson (Wolverhampton City Council). The Growth Zone has the potential to deliver more than 11m sq ft of floor space and 20,000 jobs over 15 sites, including i54, Wobaston Park, Wolverhampton Business Park, ROF Featherstone, Mercury Park and Vernon Park, and Four Ashes Park.
  • Midlands Showcase presentation on Stafford Gateway and the New Garden Settlement hosted by Councillor Patrick Farrington (leader, Stafford Borough Council) and Councillor Winnington. This provided an update on progress, including the project’s inclusion in the Midlands Engine Investment Portfolio.
  • Midlands Panel Session on ‘Using innovative thinking to unlock investment and accelerate development plans’. Councillor Abi Brown (deputy leader, Stoke-on-Trent City Council) participated in the panel alongside Nick Taylor (KPMG), Deborah Cadman (WMCA), Martin Reeves (Coventry City Council) and Anthony McCourt (Court Collaboration).
  • Midlands Showcase presentation on the Stoke-on-Trent Station Masterplan, University Quarter and Spode Works hosted by Councillor Brown. This included an announcement on potential options for the redevelopment of the Swift House site.
  • Midlands Panel Session on ‘How can the Midlands create the quantity and quality of homes needed?’ David Frost, Chairman of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP participated in the panel alongside Tom Purnell (Leicestershire County Council), Tim Downing (Pygott & Crone), Owen Michaelson (Harworth Group), Stephen Pratt (Godwin Developments) & Tom Shaw (Ramboll).
  • Midlands Panel Session on Stoke-on-Trent and Energy Securitisation hosted by David Frost. The panel included Councillor Abi Brown, Richard Watts (VXFiber), Peter Anderberg (Nordic Heat), Tim Day (Solarplicity) and Tim Lowe (Siemens). Each gave presentations on their work supporting the City Council’s plans to become a smart and sustainable city.

There were four events in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire apartment focusing on Stafford Gateway/New Garden Settlement, the Stoke-on-Trent Station Masterplan and Stoke-on-Trent Smart Sustainable City, plus an opening reception on Monday evening which welcomed over 100 delegates.

  • Tuesday evening – ‘Delivering a new County Town Through HS2; Stafford Gateway and Stafford New Garden Settlement’. This included presentations by Councillor Patrick Farrington and Duncan Sutherland (HS2).
  • Wednesday morning – ‘Stoke-on-Trent Station Masterplan, University Quarter & Spode Works’. This included presentations by Councillor Abi Brown, Professor Martin Jones (Staffordshire University) and Duncan Sutherland (HS2).
  • Wednesday evening – ‘Building a Smart Sustainable City for Stoke-on-Trent’. This included presentations by Tim Lowe (Siemens), Tim Day (Solarplicity), Peter Anderberg (Nordic Heat) and Richard Watts (VXFIBER).

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP dinner was attended by a full house of 30 people from a range of sponsors, public sector partners, developers and professional service providers. These included Wardell Armstrong, Gleeds, Network Space, Stoford Developments, Knights LLP, Faithful and Gould, Solarplicity, VX Fiber, HS2 Growth Partnership, Staffordshire University, Harworth Estates, Siemens, Hilton Hotels, Nordic Heat, Öresundskraft and the Midlands Engine. The discussion during the dinner was chaired by David Frost with significant contributions from Councillors Farrington, Winnington and Brown.

Staffordshire employment site fully occupied as latest development starts

Posted by | Bericote Four Ashes, News | No Comments

Work has started on the latest development at a Staffordshire business park which will site over 1,000 jobs and forms part of a high growth zone near the M54.

This week Midlands developer First Pannatoni began its 440,000 sq ft speculative unit at the Four Ashes Business Park in South Staffordshire which means the site is now fully occupied. Four Ashes is already home to leading automotive parts supplier Gestamp, which started operations on site last year.

Sited off the A449, the 52-acre Four Ashes site provides 900,000 sq ft industrial floor space and forms part of the Wolverhampton Staffordshire High Growth Zone, which was launched at the MIPIM international property event this month.

Staffordshire County Council carried out the essential access works for Four Ashes, paving the way for new business and jobs. The project was funded by the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership including a £1.9million allocation from the Government’s Local Growth Fund.

It included the creation of a traffic signalled junction on the A449. In addition, new pedestrian crossings were installed and pedestrian and cycle routes improved.

County council finance leader Mike Sutherland, who met developers at Four Ashes this week said:

First Pannatoni’s development getting under way is further demonstration of investor confidence in Staffordshire and of the county’s continued successful economic growth.

The county council, working with the local enterprise partnership, delivered the essential access infrastructure to Four Ashes Business Park which paved the way for development. We have a global sector leader with Gestamp operational and this latest development will see the site full.

Four Ashes is just one of the sites the county council has been involved with since 2014 where there has been £400million of completed, ongoing and planned investment – ultimately leading to the creation of up to 13,000 jobs. This is more good news for Staffordshire and demonstrates that we are very much open for business.”

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chairman David Frost CBE said:

The Four Ashes development is further proof that Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire is proving to be a very attractive location to do business. Our can-do attitude and strong partnerships across the public and private sectors are opening up development opportunities and creating a welcoming environment that enables businesses to grow and flourish.

The availability of great sites such as Four Ashes, our central location, good transport links and skilled workforce are proving a strong combination in attracting and retaining businesses.”

Major manufacturing Growth Zone plans unveiled at MIPIM

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A collection of new high-value manufacturing, business and logistics investment opportunities in Wolverhampton and Staffordshire has been unveiled at MIPIM in Cannes.

The M54 Wolverhampton – Staffordshire High Growth Zone will be one of the biggest in the UK and was today (13 March) showcased at The Right Landscape for Growth hotspot at the global property forum.

The Growth Zone consists of six strategic cluster sites next to the M54 and junctions 10a and 12 of the M6.

It builds on the i54 joint venture formed by City of Wolverhampton, Staffordshire and South Staffordshire councils in 2012, working closely with private sector partners.

The Growth Zone has the potential to deliver more than 11m sq ft of floor space and 20,000 jobs over 15 sites.

It provides investors, developers and occupiers with exciting opportunities over a ten-year programme.

The six strategic cluster sites are i54, Wobaston Park, Wolverhampton Business Park, ROF Featherstone, Mercury Park and Vernon Park, and West Midlands Interchange and Four Ashes Park.

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “This is a great opportunity to join global brands in a nationally significant growth zone.

“These strategic sites are centrally located with first-class connectivity and major public-sector infrastructure investment.

“The scale of the proposition makes it one of the biggest in the UK and also offers access to a highly skilled workforce.”

The first cluster is the final 15 acres on plots C, D and E at i54, where the likes of Jaguar Land Rover, Moog, ISP, Eurofins, ERA and Atlas Copco (Tentec) are located.

The i54 partnership is now proposing a 100-acre western extension of the site, off junction 2 on the M54.

Wobaston Park offers two adjacent sites with easy access to the newly-improved Wobaston Road and M54, with planning permission for B1, B2 and B8 use.

Further north along the A449 is Wolverhampton Business Park on M54 Junction 2, which boasts available plots for professional services and end occupiers.

It is already home to Sunday Times top-ten company, Charter Court Financial Services.

ROF Featherstone, just north of M54, junction 2, is a 60-acre former ordnance site, owned by St Francis Group. It includes plans for a 30-acre extension. Joint venture partners are funding a new access route to the site, which will be followed by a planning application later this year, with plots available from 2020.

Mercury Park and Vernon Park lie just off M54 junction, where there are opportunities to join brands like Mann & Hummel, DHL, Squire, Hough and J Banks.

West Midlands Interchange is a proposition developed by Four Ashes Ltd – a joint venture between Grosvenor First, Kilbride Group and Piers Monkton. It will have direct freight access to the West Coast mainline and onward to the nation’s key deep-water ports. It will be subject to a ministerial development consent order this year, highlighting the significance of this national infrastructure project.

Four Ashes Park is the new home to international manufacturer Gestamp. It has also seen international developer First Panattoni invest in a 400,000 sq ft speculative build. The private investment is matched by public sector investment already being developed to support business growth and success.

The M54 Wolverhampton – Staffordshire High Growth Zone is supported by the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, West Midlands Combined Authority, and Midlands Engine.

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader, Mark Winnington, said: “The M54 high growth zone presents huge opportunities for global investors and so presenting it at MIPIM is a vital part of our marketing of the area.

“All of the sites within the zone complement each other and are already home to world-leading brands which are playing an important part in UK and regional growth.

“The fact that the zone contains thriving enterprise hubs is due in no small part to the highly successful partnership of councils which has levered in millions of pounds of private investment.

“Its central location and road and rail links of course strengthen our pitch and we expect more improvements to infrastructure.

“The continued expansion and growth of the zone will create thousands more quality jobs in our area and ensure we have a skilled workforce to meet the needs of future business.”

Staffordshire businesses urged to tap into £500,000 county loan fund

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Staffordshire small businesses looking for access to finance to enable them to grow are being urged to find out more about a loan fund run by the county council with a £500,000 allocation available.

The Staffordshire Business Loan Fund’s latest allocation for county businesses will be open until November. Loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 are available to eligible businesses which have struggled to access finance through mainstream lenders.

The fund is run in conjunction with BCRS Business Loans and since it started in 2009 has benefited 176 businesses and created and protected 1,155 jobs.

One recipient is Stafford-based Rawnsley Horsebox & Trailers Ltd, trading as Equi-Trek Stafford. The company is a dealer of horseboxes and trailers whose managing director Richard Rawnsley MBE approached the loan fund after being unable to access finance from a traditional lender.

Richard said: “I needed a business loan to purchase additional stock, renovate a workshop and employ additional staff members. This has subsequently enabled us to record a jump in sales and expand the business. When I approached the Staffordshire Business Loan Fund, I found the process to be quick and straightforward with a very supportive team.”

Staffordshire County Council’s economic growth leader Mark Winnington said: “Small businesses play a vital part in Staffordshire’s ongoing economic growth and we are seeing more and more innovative companies expanding and employing more people.

“The fund has been a huge success in Staffordshire and the results speak for themselves. It has achieved exactly what we wanted it to – enabling businesses to grow by overcoming access to finance issues. Small companies are however still facing difficulties in accessing funding despite having strong business cases.

“Now we’re urging more Staffordshire small businesses facing similar barriers to expansion to get in touch – an allocation from the £500,000 pot could make a big difference to their growth.

“We look forward to continuing to work with BCRS. It has been a strong and effective partnership which will continue to support business growth and create or safeguard jobs in Staffordshire.”

Paul Kalinauckas, the chief executive of BCRS Business Loans, said: “The loan fund has a successful track record of promoting the growth and prosperity of local businesses. Over £700,000 has already been delivered to businesses during the current initiative, which has helped create and safeguard over 100 jobs.

“This is an exciting opportunity for local businesses that have their sights set on expansion.”

“We believe in small businesses; they are at the heart of what we do. We invest in most market sectors – right from manufacturing companies to IT providers and anything in between. Submit a quick and simple enquiry form on our website to discover if you are eligible for a business loan.”

Interested businesses can discover more about the Staffordshire Business Loan Fund by visiting www.bcrs.org.uk or call BCRS Business Loans on 0345 313 8410.

Development options unveiled for key site in Stoke Station Masterplan

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Plans have been unveiled today outlining how a key site in the Stoke Station Masterplan area could be transformed into a ‘flagship’ development for the city.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has commissioned consultants and architects to look at the redevelopment potential of Swift House, which sits next to Stoke-on-Trent railway station, and is a short walk to Stoke town centre and Staffordshire University.

The building and associated land currently houses a small number of city council and private sector staff. Owned by the local authority, the site is located in the Trent and Mersey Canal Conservation Area and the vaulted ceilings in the building’s two-storey basement that overlooks the canal are locally listed.

At MIPIM property conference in France today, four development options for the site were unveiled by Councillor Abi Brown, deputy leader of the city council, to potential developers and investors from around the world. The unveiling comes just days after the Government confirmed Stoke-on-Trent would get at least one High Speed 2 (HS2) train every hour, while continuing to be served by the normal inter-city London trains as well.

The options for Swift House are:

  • Two striking towers supporting more than 200 one, two and three-bedroom apartments with facilities including rooftop terraces, a gym and amenity space.
  •  More than 190,000 sq. ft. of flexible office space, providing state-of-the-art business facilities to suit any business, of any size, from any industry.
  • A 140-bedroom hotel with conference and meeting facilities, gymnasium and spa, and a standalone restaurant, licensed bar and casino.
  • A student residential complex offering more than 800 beds from undergraduate accommodation to post-graduate studio apartments, with a business hub on the ground floor.

Councillor David Conway, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “We are delighted to be launching this key development that has the potential to play a big part in regenerating the Station Gateway to our fantastic city. This comes on the back of continued positive news about the local economy and confirmation that Stoke-on-Trent will be a HS2 connected city. The Swift House site is a very short walk to the train station, Staffordshire University and the Spode creative village, with the city centre little more than a mile away. With the A500 – the key arterial route leading to the M6 and M1 via the A50 – adjacent to the site, it’s in a unique location.

“We’re keen to consider a range of development options for the site, with schemes that are led by residential, office, hotel and student accommodation uses. This means developers have a choice. In recent years, we have worked hard to ensure we listen and work with partners and stakeholders, receive feedback and most importantly act on it – we are not a local authority which develops in isolation. Today is the start of a conversation that we will convert into inward investment to regenerate the site with a development that our residents, businesses and visitors deserve.

“Last year saw record passenger numbers at the railway station, with more than three million people passing through the turnstiles. The number of people using the station has increased by 27 per cent in the last five years, and is expected to rise further in the future. These figures show the transformation taking place in Stoke-on-Trent and it’s absolutely vital that we maximise the potential of the area. This development would be a landmark scheme for the city, building on our ongoing positive outlook as a growing city.”

The Stoke Station Masterplan, which was unveiled at MIPIM UK in October, 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 HS2 would bring to Stoke-on-Trent.

Councillor Abi Brown is representing the city council at MIPIM as part of the Constellation Partnership, a collaboration of councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships between Birmingham and Manchester. Speaking from the event, Cllr Brown said: “We were delighted to receive the news last week that the city would benefit from HS2 trains in the future. The station masterplan enables sustainable planned expansion while also planning ahead for HS2 train services that will ensure the city remains competitive on all fronts.

“Our city, its residents and our businesses deserve the best and we are planning ahead to make sure we remain competitive as a place to do business. That is why we are at events like MIPIM to really highlight opportunities like the Stoke Station Masterplan to potential developers and investors from all over the world and present the fantastic opportunities we have here in our city right now.”

Professor Martin Jones, deputy vice-chancellor at Staffordshire University, is also at MIPIM. The university is actively involved in the Stoke Station Masterplan as a key organisation in the area.

He said: “Staffordshire University welcomes this exciting development. The land and buildings surrounding our main Stoke-on-Trent campus are ripe for redevelopment. Stoke-on-Trent is on the up and this proposal for the future of Swift House is the catalyst needed to think creatively about iconic mixed-use spaces, ranging from flexible office and live-work spaces to hotel and student accommodation.”

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chairman David Frost CBE said: “We are delighted to see these impressive development options for Swift House. The station area is a key gateway to Stoke-on-Trent and the redevelopment of Swift House will a great asset in the continued transformation of the city.

“The city has a rising national and international profile as a business and tourism destination thanks to its enterprise zone and vibrant ceramics sector, its culture and heritage, as well as the amazing countryside on Stoke-on-Trent’s doorstep. It is excellent news for our local economy that the city is bringing forward such ambitious development plans to capitalise on these strengths.”

New Company Moves to Two Smithfield

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Office space at the flagship Smithfield development in Stoke-on-Trent’s city centre has reached full occupancy – with the news that 300 high-skilled workers are set to move in.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has signed up Davies Group, which will take up two floors in Two Smithfield. The company, which has a 1,200-strong team of professionals across the UK, Ireland and Bermuda, gives operations management, consulting and digital solutions to organisations in highly-regulated markets, such as finance and insurance.

Davies Group has outgrown its city centre home at Telecom House and would have had to move jobs out of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to another city had high-quality office space at Two Smithfield not been available. The company will take up the third and fourth floors of the building, and is looking to expand at its new home by taking on a further 200 skilled staff over the next two years.

The move means office space at the One Smithfield and Two Smithfield buildings is now fully taken, with a mixture of around 1,400 public and private sector workers across both buildings. This is not only giving a significant footfall boost in the city centre, which is good news for businesses and the economy, but providing a regular rental income for the city council.

The move was announced today at the MIPIM property conference, which a delegation from the city council is attending as part of the Midlands Engine group.

Councillor David Conway, leader of the city council, said: “I really am delighted that Davies Group are joining us at Two Smithfield, meaning that office space in both buildings is now fully occupied for the first time since they were built. We’ve put in a lot of effort and hard work to get to this stage, to give the best possible return for the taxpayer and the city from the development.

“The company have told us they probably would have had to move the jobs out of Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire had this office space at Two Smithfield not been available. That would have been a huge blow to the city, so it’s a real win for everyone that these jobs are staying here. They could have moved their business anywhere but they are staying in Stoke-on-Trent because the city had available the kind of high-quality office building they were looking for to grow and expand their operation. It shows businesses have real confidence to invest in Stoke-on-Trent, a city on the up, and further underlines the city as a great place to do business.”

Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage, said: “The fact the company is not only staying but is investing in Stoke-on-Trent is a huge endorsement for our city and proves we are an attractive opportunity for businesses. Having office space in both of the Smithfield buildings now fully occupied is really positive. It’s providing a huge boost to footfall in Hanley, which in turn is good for shops and businesses.”

Davies Group has a partnership with Staffordshire University which gives them access to academic research, lectures from senior academics, and sees them engage with students for work experience, internships and its graduate programme. Staff from the company regularly deliver talks to students on career skills, law, business and finance topics.

Mark Grocott, chief digital officer for Davies Group, said: “Stoke-on-Trent has long been a strategic location for Davies, with a large portion of our operational colleagues based in the area. We can recruit high quality, dedicated and enthusiastic staff here.

“Davies is growing rapidly and to be forced to move away from this area would have been a huge disappointment. We are delighted to have been able to work with Stoke-on-Trent City Council to source the right office space. Our teams are delighted with the final solution.”

Further developments on the Smithfield site are in the pipeline. Plans for a city centre residential development were given the go-ahead by planners in December. The residential block will provide 151 apartments for Fortior Homes with amenity space and communal gardens. There are also leisure and commercial units planned for the ground floor, including a gym and office space. And planning permission has also been granted for a four-star, 140-bedroom Hilton Garden Inn Hotel on the site. Work on both schemes is expected to start this year.

Davies Group will join business water provider WaterPlus at Two Smithfield, who moved 400 staff to the building in 2016 when the company was launched as part of a joint venture between Severn Trent Water and United Utilities. One Smithfield is occupied by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Staffordshire Police, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and NHS North Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

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