The latest phase of a multi-million pound project to transform the centre of Stoke-on-Trent into a modern city for the 21st century is due to begin in days.
Open space in the city centre – referred to as public realm – is being upgraded to transform the appearance of the city and improve the experience for visitors, providing an inspirational series of linked space and streets that can accommodate events and festivals, in a safe, accessible and attractive environment.
The major facelift is just one of a series of projects within the city centre that is transforming the city for current and future generations to enjoy, helping to bring in new jobs and visitors to the city.
Phase one of the public realm works was completed in March 2013 and saw Percy Street, Tontine Street and part of Stafford Street transformed with natural stone paving, seating and tree planting.
This latest phase will provide new, high quality public spaces in Albion Street, Albion Square, the western end of Old Hall Street and Lichfield Street, connecting to the new £15 million bus station.
The work, which also includes improvements to Parliament Square adjacent to the Grade II Listed Tontines building, involves road and footway reconstruction and the provision of new lighting, street furniture and tree planting.
The latest stage of the works will cost £2.5 million and is being funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2007-13, matched by Stoke-on-Trent City Council. The work will create a legacy for local people and make the city centre more attractive to potential new investors.
The improvements will help enhance the image and appeal of the city to businesses, attracting fresh inward investment and job opportunities. It will also help join up other developments taking place around the city including the Central Business District, which will kick-start the economic recovery of the city, creating jobs and regeneration.
Norman Price, deputy chairman of the West Midlands ERDF Local Management Committee, said:
“The initial plans and vision to transform the city into a thriving and successful centre are really coming to life and improving the appeal and image of the area.
“Local people are starting to benefit from a new look city and when completed the improvements will also help to attract new businesses and investment to ensure the long term future of the local area. I look forward to seeing the work through phase two start, building on the successful developments completed to date and helping to deliver the full potential of the ambitious plans.”
It is anticipated that the work will be complete in the autumn of 2014. The city council is currently looking to secure funding towards further phases of public realm improvements.
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transportation, said:
“I think all visitors to the city centre would agree the first phase of the work has really improved the look and feel of the place.
“We’re really excited that the second phase is about to get underway, which will again help to provide a more welcoming shopping environment in what is the city centre’s biggest makeover for a generation.”