Commercial property enquiries in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire remain buoyant despite the gloomy economic climate as value-conscious investors look to make the area their destination of choice.

InStaffs, the inward investment agency, revealed that 570 new clients registered with its website in the six months between April and September this year while the number of property searches generated on the site stood at more than 7,800 – an increase of 19 per cent on the previous six months.

The latest Property Market Trends (PMT) survey also shows that interest was especially strong in North Staffordshire, with 51 per cent of all enquiries over the period relating to property in the area. Chief executive John de Kanter said the trends were very encouraging at a difficult time for the sector.

“The inward investment market has never been more competitive, so it is very gratifying that interest in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire remains so high,” he said.

“It suggests that the area’s business property offering is amongst the strongest anywhere.

“Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire has seen a number of significant investments over the latest period and with many areas around the country seeing a decline in enquiries, it is now more important than ever that we continue to work together and promote the benefits of the area”

Mr de Kanter believes there is every reason for continuing optimism with a raft of new projects coming on line.

The University Quarter in Stoke-on-Trent has recently received a major boost with the announcement that regional development agency Advantage West Midlands has been allocated £36 million of funding towards the project.

This is in addition to the £144m already secured for the scheme. The remaining £102m is expected to be raised from Renew North Staffordshire, the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the private sector.

Burton-upon-Trent’s burgeoning reputation as a major distribution hub will shortly be reinforced with the completion of The Duke. Strategically positioned on Wellington Road, the 300,000 sq ft development has been built to the highest standards and is ready to be handed over by Anson Properties to Standard Life Investment Funds.

Elsewhere, a shortlist of preferred developers – Kier, St Modwen and Manchester-based Genr8 Developments - has been drawn up for the £250m Stoke-on-Trent Business District project, which will transform the 6.5 acre site between Bethesda Street and the Potteries Way ring road into 650,000 sq ft of office-led mixed use development.

Of the 7,812 searches made on the InStaffs website during the period, 45 per cent were for industrial property, with 20 per cent for office property, 18 per cent for land, 11 per cent for retail and 16 per cent for other types of property.

There has been an overall increase in the amount of available floor space with industrial property up 14 per cent and office space up nine per cent. However, the amount of available land has decreased in the period by seven per cent.

“No-one would deny that the climate is difficult and these trends are based on data compiled prior to the near-collapse of the banking system. However, firms are still retaining confidence in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire and this is very positive,” said Mr de Kanter.

“The highlight has to be Vodafone’s decision to retain its presence in Stoke-on-Trent and consolidate into a purpose-built facility on Etruria Valley.

“In view of the current climate, it may not be possible to report such positives in May. We can but hope that the difficulties of the past few months are resolved as quickly as possible and the effects are not as long-lasting as some fear.”