Extra funding given go-ahead

for ambitious

Stoke scheme

Plans for a new £282million University Quarter in Staffordshire have received a £36million boost.

Regional minister for the West Midlands, Ian Austin MP, confirmed the cash had been approved for the 400-acre site in Stoke-on-Trent which will create up to 1,000 new jobs.

Advantage West Midlands (AWM) gave the go-ahead for the money to bring together learning organisations in one location and encourage people to move onto higher education.

Mr Austin said: “I want to make sure the economic downturn does not delay the regeneration of Stoke and the investment we want to see in North Staffordshire.

“I’m determined to ensure we improve education, training and skills in the area because that is the only way we’ll bring to Stoke the new highly-skilled and well-paid jobs on which the area’s prosperity will depend in the future.”

The cash will make improvements to a key area of the city between the railway station and the city centre. It will also mean shared facilities for Stoke-on-Trent FE College, Stoke-on-Trent Sixth Form College and Staffordshire University, and commercial and residential development.

A centre has already been set up to ensure businesses have access to the facilities and courses are tailored to the needs of local firms. The project has already secured £180million from the university, colleges, the Learning and Skills Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and AWM.

The rest will come from Renew North Staffordshire, Higher Education Funding Council for England and the private sector. Mick Laverty, chief executive at AWM, said it was vital the project did not lose momentum during the credit crunch.

He added: “Not only will the University Quarter help to raise the aspirations and educational attainments of local people, it will also regenerate a major site within Stoke-on-Trent for the benefit of the whole community, bringing nearly 1,000 new jobs and hundreds of new businesses to the area.”