Part of Stoke-on-Trent’s urban landscape is to be transformed to create a new city landmark that promotors say will symbolise “a renewed sense of civic pride” for the Potteries town.
Plans to build a “centre of excellence” for post-16 education and a science centre in a strategically important part of the city have been given a boost after the project was approved by planners.
The proposed new facilities are part of Phase One of the University Quarter project, an education-led regeneration scheme that aims to attract £250 million-worth of investment to the area.
To start the project off, the University Quarter partnership has acquired the Roebuck Hotel in Leek Road, Stoke as the first of a series of planned property purchases needed to make way for two flagship buildings that will jointly create a key gateway to the city.
As part of the sceheme, the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College will move from its current site to one directly overlooking the junction of Leek Road and Station Road while close by will Staffordshire University’s new Science Centre.
Stoke mayor Mark Meredith said: “This vital first phase of the University Quarter is another excellent example of partnership working, leading the city towards a new era of education.
“This development is very exciting as it will create a highly visible landmark on the city’s urban landscape and will act as a gateway to the regeneration of the area.
“These iconic buildings, I am confident, will act as a symbol of Stoke-on-Trent’s transformation and help to continue to inspire a renewed sense of civic pride across the city.”
Paul Mangnall, deputy principal at the Sixth Form College, said: “The new facilities will create a real impact and will be highly visible to visitors to the city – but it is the education provision within them that is even more exciting. The people of Stoke have always taken pride in their skills and creative talents – but as traditional industry makes way for the knowledge economy the University Quarter will give local people access to new learning opportunities.”
Paul Richards, chairman of the University Quarter steering group, added: “Ultimately our vision is to provide opportunity, attract investment and create a better quality for all those who live, work or study within the University Quarter.
“By creating a high profile gateway the Phase One plans will help attract further funding to this important part of Stoke-on-Trent – this initial phase will kick-start subsequent projects and other exciting concepts.”
Mr Richards said future schemes will provide support for creative industries and help develop businesses and professional services firms as well as create a “knowledge hub” that will house a library and information-based resources and support fledgling businesses working in the local knowledge economy.
The University Quarter is an education-led regeneration project involving Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent College and the City of Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College. Other strategic partners include Stoke-on-Trent City Council, North Staffordshire Regeneration Partnership, RENEW, North Staffs Learning and Skills Council, Advantage West Midlands and Sanctuary Housing Association.