A run-down retail block in one of Stoke’s forgotten communities is about to be rejuvenated in a £7 million project.
Ingestre Square, in the back streets of Blurton, has been allowed to decline into disrepair over a span of years, and has been awaiting redevelopment promised for the last ten years.
Now, finally, Kier Group (the contractor responsible for maintaining Stoke’s social housing) Aspire Housing and the city council are clubbing together to regenerate the plot, with plans for new shops, a community centre and over forty homes.
The dilapidated square is situated off Trentham Road, near to Blurton High School, which is also getting ready for a much-needed, but divisive, revamp, more accurately, rebuild, if plans to erect a new Academy go ahead.
Whether Labour’s flagship school programme is the right thing for this community is (or should be) up to the parents, staff and pupils to decide, but what is for sure is, this investment in Blurton is more than welcome.
Several years ago I did some vox-pop interviews with locals in Blurton around election time and none of them could give a hoot about who was likely to get in at the local ballot. They had long ago given up on wishing for anything more than their lot in life in a community stricken by the loss of the coal and pots industries it once relied on to provide its population with work.
It had already become a locality full of disillusioned residents, and the kind of social problems that exists there is no coincidence (type in the neighbouring Finstock Avenue into a search and see how many stories of crime and disorder have taken place there, or go and take a look for yourself). But a lack of investment and a seeming lack of regard for the area has meant that if anything, it has got worse.
This is a quick-win which will hardly transform the area of Blurton into a prosperous neighbourhood overnight, but it’s certainly a good start, and not before time. For the regeneration of Stoke-on-Trent is about making life better for the people that already live here, not about knocking down rows of houses to attract new more affluent people, or only about redesigning town centres to show off to visiting shopaholics. Starting at grass roots and helping make things better for people who have for too long been forgotten, is one of the keys to making these regeneration funds do exactly what they say on the tin.