Stoke-on-Trent’s Levelling Up initiatives are already delivering results, with ready-made opportunities for developers and investors, a global real estate conference 

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is making strong progress on all of its Levelling Up projects, after securing £56m – the largest allocation of funding from government for a specific city in the country. That funding was announced at the end of October 2021, and just over four months later the authority is to tell a major international development event about its plans for:

  • Etruscan Square in the city centre, backed by £20m of Levelling Up funding, which is already out for pre-planning consultation, including a 3,600-capacity arena, 82,000 sf ft of commercial space, 285 homes, a 701-space car park a 138-bedroom hotel. The authority has now unveiled a procurement strategy, a crucial technical document which shows developers how they can bid for key contracts to deliver the works. Developers will hear how 7.12 acres of city centre land is shovel-ready, and how the eyesore Meigh Street Car Park is already three-quarters of the way to be cleared to make way for new development.
  • The development of the Goods Yard next to Stoke Station and the Trent and Mersey Canal, backed by £16m in Levelling Up funding and is expected to be on site in the summer, with developer Capital&Centric to transform a 1.24-acre site into office, leisure and commercial space, 174 with apartments and a 150-bed hotel. A new public realm will also be created alongside the reopening of the canalside jetty into public space.
  • The further transformation of the Spode site in Stoke, backed by £10m in Levelling Up funding, with proposals to develop residential units, commercial space and large-scale community space on the former pottery site.
  • The Crown Works in Longton, with proposals for 75 homes over an acre of land, backed by £6.5m in Levelling Up funding that will help to regenerate the town.
  • Investing into the Grade II listed Tunstall Library and Pool, and using £3.5m in Levelling Up funding to support 34 apartments, seven family mews homes and more than 2,000 sq ft of community space in the iconic buildings.

The announcements have been made at MIPIM, the annual global real estate conference in France. The city council is attending as part of a contingent of businesses from the city and across Staffordshire. The cost is being met entirely from sponsorship by those businesses, demonstrating the value that they put into the networking and opportunities that they are able to get from attending.

Council leader Abi Brown said: “Our Levelling Up projects already have huge momentum behind them and significant, tangible progress is being made to deliver them. We’re confident that we have the right opportunities, and the right mix of developments that can make the biggest difference to our city and are attractive schemes for development.

“We’re backed by the biggest allocation in Levelling Up funding for a specific city in the country, we’ve tested out our proposals to major national investors in London, and now we’re telling global brands, major UK-based international companies and key national agencies what we are delivering in Stoke-on-Trent and how they can be a part of our success story.

“These are the biggest development opportunities in our city in a generation and bring with them huge benefits to our towns and communities. What we know from speaking to developers already is that there are great opportunities to work across our projects, so our major schemes become even more exciting when their potential is viewed across all four sites.”

Councillor Brown and deputy council leader Daniel Jellyman, along with three senior officers are attending more than 30 meetings with national developers, international investors, government agencies, UK city regions investors and European cities. They will also meet senior leaders from Homes England and Historic England. The conference lasts for a total of four days.

Councillor Brown said: “This is the first time the event has run for three years, and it comes as we have the biggest story to tell in Stoke-on-Trent for decades. Meetings and conversations borne out of attending this event in previous years have reaped huge benefits for our city. It is a unique opportunity to meet a host of major organisations in one location. Conversations that I have led in previous years have led to national house builders coming to build new homes for city residents, as well as the opportunity to develop strong relationships with national organisations such as Historic England – a relationship which has seen the city granted Heritage Action Zone status, with millions of pounds of investment to support historic town centre buildings particularly in Longton and Stoke.

“The design of the iconic new Spitfire gallery at The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery followed initial conversations with leading architects at MIPIM where we shouted about the opportunities our city has to offer.

“Confidence in our city continues to grow – I launched the idea to transform the Goods Yard in 2017, an idea that turned into a development opportunity by 2018, we met with developers at MIPIM in 2019, announced a partnership in 2020 and secured Levelling Up funding for the site late last year. Now we are set to be on site in 2022, starting to deliver a major scheme that will transform a key site next to Stoke Station and the canal in Stoke. Development like this doesn’t happen overnight. These are multi-million pound programmes that take a huge amount of planning, creativity and a deep understanding of the right ‘fit’ of opportunities that are in the best interests of our residents and businesses and are attractive to developers. The fact that we have progressed so quickly, especially during a pandemic that halted many developments globally, shows that our plans are right, and the future of this site is tremendously exciting.

“It’s a huge source of pride for our city that we are in such a strong position with these projects, that we have a clear plan that we are delivering, backed by major investment from government and can offer such fantastic opportunities that will support our towns and city, and reap benefits for residents and businesses for generations to come.”

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