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The BIG Drive Home

2:00 pm 6:00 pm

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The BIG Drive Home

2:00 pm 6:00 pm


£4 million fund to breathe new life into Stoke town centre

Written by on 20 September 2020

Property owners in Stoke town centre can now apply for a share of a multi-million pound heritage-led regeneration cashpot to repair and improve their premises – and bring empty buildings back into use.

The city council successfully applied for £2 million from a Government fund last year – being delivered through Historic England’s successful Heritage Action Zone initiative – to breathe new life into High Streets up and down the country. With match funding from the council and private sector contributions, the total amount to be injected into the town through the four-year project now stands at £4 million and the cash is ready to be unlocked.

The fund comes hot on the heels of the recently completed Stoke Town Partnership Scheme in Conservation Areas (PSiCA) scheme – another collaboration between the city council and Historic England that saw almost £1 million spent on 11 restoration and enhancement projects in the town, including improvements to the historic Sutherland Chambers.

Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage, said: “I’m delighted we’re now at the stage where we are inviting property owners in the town to come forward and submit applications to the scheme. This is a significant pot of money with enormous potential to transform buildings in the town centre and breathe new life into the area, and will really build on the success of all the recent work through the PSiCA scheme.

“The scheme aims to support property owners with internal and external repairs to their buildings, supporting both retail on the ground floor and converting upper floor space to residential accommodation. We want to bring vacant floor space back into use to boost footfall in the town, which will have a positive knock-on effect for the area as a whole and existing businesses. We also want to improve the connection between the town and Spode Works site, which has undergone its own regeneration in recent years, so they benefit one another.”

The funding is primarily targeted at properties in the Stoke town centre conservation area – which includes Glebe Street and Church Street – however, applications from other locations will be considered. As part of the funding, the city council is working with arts company B-Arts on a programme of community engagement and cultural activities to promote and celebrate the town alongside the physical improvements.

Susan Clarke, artistic and executive director of B-Arts, said: “The Stoke town conservation area has masses of opportunity for collaborative and connected events and opportunities for everyone who lives and works in the town. All of the cultural and community partners are looking forward telling the stories of the town, past, present and our imagined futures and we’re delighted to be creating imaginative ways for local people to get involved in telling and shaping those stories.”

Councillor James Smith, the city council’s heritage champion, said: “We have so much heritage and valuable, historic architecture in the city and schemes like this are so important. My message to businesses in the town is that this money is here, ready and waiting to reinvigorate premises and give the town a real shot in the arm. This is another great example of how the council can work in partnership with a national body like Historic England and the private sector to bring about positive change.”

Annmarie Bailey, co-owner of The Quarter @ Potbank, which has recently opened at Spode Works, said: “For a brand new business in the heart of Stoke, who have taken the risk of opening in the middle of a global pandemic, we couldn’t be happier with the news of this funding. Improving the connection between the Spode site and the town centre would benefit everyone. From our point of view, we want to encourage the people of our city to stay in Stoke, at a beautiful heritage site, where they can dine out and watch live music rather than having to travel to Manchester or Birmingham.”

Grants of up to 75 per cent can be applied for through the project towards eligible work including the appointment of a conservation accredited architect where required. Any businesses interested in applying should call 01782 232522 or email StokeHSHAZ@stoke.gov.uk