A £57.5 million package of regeneration projects which will create thousands of new jobs in North Staffordshire was yesterday handed over to regional development agency Advantage West Midlands for approval.
The flagship schemes put forward by the North Staffordshire Regeneration Zone ( NSRZ) include the £26 million development of the former coalfields at Chatterley Valley into a business park, a £10 million scheme to create a University Quarter in Stoke- on- Trent and a £9.5 million project to create a business district on the site of the soon-to-be demolished Unity House.
John Edwards, AWM's chief executive, said: "North Staffordshire has an opportunity for regeneration that has never been available before thanks to substantial public sector investment and a strong alignment of partners driving forward the pace of change."
He added: "Shortly, work will start on the floor-by-floor demolition of Unity House, with nearly all of the £1.5 million demolition costs funded by AWM. What's happening at Unity House is important - it's a clear and visible signal that changes for the better are happening.
"The key projects presented to the agency for appraisal reinforce the vision that Stokeon-Trent is indeed 'on the up' - and on the road to a prosperous economy with thriving communities."
The NSRZ, funded by AWM, coordinates the regeneration work of a wide range of local partners from the public, private and voluntary sectors.
It launched its 2005/08 Zone Implementation Plan (ZIP) of investment to around 100 partners at the Victoria Hall, Stoke-on-Trent.
The projects include:
* £26 million at Chatterley Valley: Working with AWM, the Zone will redevelop 275 acres of brownfield land into a landscaped business park, including offices and industrial units, warehousing, hotel and leisure facilities and construction of an Enterprise Centre. Expected to create around 3,000 jobs.
* £ 10 million University Quarter: Physical regeneration of 400 acres of land between Stoke-on-Trent railway station and centre of Hanley. Project led by partnership between Stafford University, Stoke Sixth Form College and Stoke College. New landmark buildings include The Media Place, The Knowledge Hub and Centre of Excellence in Business & Professional Services.
* £9.5 million Business District: Site reclamation and mixed-use development of Unity House site, comprising new office space, apartments and restaurants in an attractive landscaped setting. The scheme could generate up to 2,500 new office-based jobs.
* £ 9 million Enterprise Options - provision of Managed Workspace in North Staffs: Creating a portfolio of high-quality managed workspace across North Staffordshire, ranging from 200 sq ft to 1,000 sq ft, suitable for supporting an increase in business start-ups from a variety of sectors.
* £2 million North Staffs Post-16 Development, Newcastle College: Construction of new building on new site to replace existing properties at Newcastle-under-Lyme enabling the college to provide facilities and capacity for the growing training and skills needs of local businesses.
* £ 1 million Wedgwood Museum: The Wedgwood Museum Trust is seeking to develop a world-class showcase in Barlaston by the redevelopment of brownfield land and vacant building. The project will allow the display of the museum's entire 8,000 piece collection and aims to attract 100,000 people a year.