Farewell to Oat Cuisine as Hole in the Wall shuts up shop

The world’s last traditional oatcake shop has closed its doors for the final time – marking the end on an era following council plans to demolish the premises.

The Hole in the Wall oatcake shop in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, was flooded with customers after news emerged that it would close.

The 115-year-old terrace house, which has served oatcakes through its front window since the 1920s, has become an iconic building on Waterloo Street. Continue reading

Stoke’s Lost Pubs Mapped

As research from pub campaigners CAMRA suggests Stoke’s pubs are especially vulnerable, we have mapped the extent of recent closures (jump to map)

It’s a familiar sight – the boarded-up pub. And it’s increasingly common, as new data from pub campaigners CAMRA shows that more than 50 pub buildings are currently standing empty or being repurposed in Stoke, with more under threat.

The data indicates that around one in five pub buildings in Stoke is currently standing empty, or has been repurposed. Despite high-profile campaigns to save pubs in recent years, landlords continue to struggle with the smoking ban, high alcohol taxes, and competition from supermarkets. Continue reading

City Sentral Week 3

As MIPIM just about to start from 6th to 9th March in Cannes, MIPIM is the European meeting point and deal making forum for many key industry players.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council have teamed up with Staffordshire in attempt to generate interest and investment in the area? Continue reading

City Sentral Another Week

Another week on and another Council Budget agreed with pledge to spend £12million and complete Hanley Ring Road, after the last proposal for another Hotel and another Casino failed to materialise and increase our Council Tax by 3.49%

Oddly enough my first suggestion for a retailer to contact on their interest in our City came from a local Councillor, Cllr Rosenau suggested on twitter for her followers to contact Hotel Chocolat about coming to Hanley. Who I am to ignore Cabinet Member for Regeneration she must know a thing or two. So I send off my email hoping above hopes that this will be the first positive response ( I have insider information dont I ) but sadly no yet another negative reply Continue reading

Bid for a share of £1m for your high street and become a Portas Pilot

Towns and cities across the UK are being given the opportunity to bid for a share of a £1million funding pot to help them to turn arond their unloved and unused High Streets. Stoke-on-Trent with its six towns has more than enough unloved High Streets to choose from to put bids in against.

Mary Portas and Grant Shapps the Local Government Minister have launched a competition to choose 12 towns to become ‘Portas Pilots’ and bid for up to £100,000 to help them. The cash has offered as an incentive to those towns that come up with the best High Street blueprints in a move that fulfils the first and last recommendations of Mary Portas’ High Streets Review, commissioned by the Prime Minister and published before Christmas.

Speaking on Friday Grant Shapps said:

Our high streets have faced stiff competition from Internet shopping, and out-of-town shopping centres – leaving them underused, unloved and under-valued. The Internet is not going to go away, and so for our high streets to survive they need to offer something new and exciting.

So today I’m offering a golden ticket to 12 town centres across the country to become ‘Portas Pilots’ – areas with the vision and enthusiasm to breathe new life into what should be the beating heart of their communities, and they will get Mary’s and my support as they try out the ideas in her recent review.

Taking forward the first recommendation from Mary Portas’s review, the 12 successful localities will create Town Teams, made up of the key players in their local community – such as the council, local landlords, shopkeepers and the local MP.

These teams will then benefit from the backing of the Minister, Whitehall and Mary Portas herself as they take forward the recommendations from the review and in their area. They will also receive a share of £1 million.

Mary Portas said

I am thrilled that now there is an opportunity to turn my recommendations into reality by giving communities across the country the opportunity to come forward with their vision for breathing new life into their locality. I hope my Review has inspired people with another vision of tomorrow where our high streets are re-imagined as destinations for socializing, culture, well being, learning as well as shopping. I want the first twelve Town Teams to challenge the old ways of working, experiment, take risks and reaffirm their place at the heart of a community. A place we all want to be and can be proud of.

Successful bidders will need to demonstrate how they have the energy, enthusiasm and vision to make a real difference to their town centres and make them the hubs of their communities.

Energy & enthusiasm is something that, dispite the best efforts of the council with their poorly implimented regeneration plans, Stoke-on-Trent still has lots of, this along with the creative flair  will be ideal when areas are asked to demonstrate how they plan to breathe new life into their high streets and shopping parades, but not just in a standard application form – Mr Shapps would also like to see their pitches to become Portas Pilots in short YouTube clips.

Use the links below to read more about how to bid to become one of the Portas Pilots.

Albion and Parliament Square Proposals Go On Display

Shoppers are being given a first glimpse of the next stage of a multi-million pound transformation of public spaces in the city centre.

Proposals for the Albion and Parliament Square areas of the city centre are going on display this week as residents and visitors are encouraged to have their say.

Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke-On-Trent City Council cabinet member for regeneration, said

The city centre will be transformed with new public spaces, seating, lighting and paving which will create a more visitor friendly atmosphere for shoppers. It is exciting to see the proposed designs for stage two unveiled and I hope that people take the time to have a look and comment on what they would like to see in the city centre.

The work is part of a multi-million pound refurbishment of city streets over the next few years to improve the city centre street scene creating a more inspiring outlook for visitors to the city and provide a strong link with the new bus station.

Work on the first phase of the project, which focuses on Tontine and Percy Street, is due to start in April.

The consultation for the second phase, which will run until Thursday 16 February, will look at proposals covering Albion Square outside the Town Hall and the small area outside Wetherspoons called Parliament Square.

Residents are being asked to comment on the proposals so that final designs can be drawn up for the scheme which is due to start in Autumn. The city centre improvements are designed to complement other major regeneration schemes in the city centre such as the Central Business District and £350million shopping and leisure complex City Sentral.

Information stands will be available in the city centre with questionnaires and design boards in the following locations

  • Victoria Hall – until Monday 13 February
  • Potteries Museum – until Thursday 16 February
  • The city centre indoor market – until Thursday 16 February

Representatives from the council will also be on hand in the city centre in Tontine Square between 10am and 2pm, Wednesday 15 February to help answer any questions.

Members of the public can get more information and leave their feedback on-line using the link below.

Potteries Shopping Centre Expansion Gets Approval

Capital Shopping Centres (CSC) today announced that its plans to invest £14m in The Potteries Shopping Centre have been granted planning approval by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

The shopping centre which attracts around 14 million visitors each year will build a multi-screen cinema complex, new family-friendly restaurants and a pedestrian boulevard at the centre. The £14m investment will re-develop an underused brownfield site, will harmonise with the surrounding area through landscaping and will promote sustainable transport through a Green Travel Plan.

Paul Francis, General Manager of The Potteries Shopping Centre, said

Stoke-on-Trent is crying out for investment of this nature and the Council’s decision will be welcomed by residents and the millions of people who shop in Hanley every year. 

Our plans will create much needed new jobs and provide a real boost to the city’s economy, not to mention offering a great place for families to come and enjoy.  As a long-term partner to this great city, we’re proud to invest in its future and can’t wait to start delivering this plan.

It is hoped that construction will start on site later this year and open the leisure extension at The Potteries Shopping Centre in early 2014.  Later this year, CSC will announce the operators who will be opening new restaurants in the leisure extension at The Potteries Shopping Centre.

The planning application was approved without the need for it to go to the planning committee.

Diggers Move in For Next Phase Of The Hanley Bus Station Development

Following extensive and challenging ground stabilisation the work, today will see a team of excavators move on to the John Street site, where they will begin creating the foundations of the city’s new bus station – the first phase of the £350million new shopping and leisure complex in the city.

Over the next 10 weeks enough earth to cover a football pitch will be dug out of the new landmark bus station site in the city centre. The excavators are expected to move more than 3500m3 of earth to prepare the up to 8m deep foundations needed to support the iconic new building.

Once completed a further 3600m3 of concrete will be needed to prepare the ground for the complex 245 tonne of steelwork being fitted next as part of the build.

Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for regeneration, said

Today is an important day in the construction of the city’s new bus station. The earth which is needed to be moved is no small feat and will create the foundations for the iconic bus station building.

 

The work is being carried out by principal contractor VINCI construction UK.

Mark Thomas, Regional Director, VINCI Construction UK Building Division – North, said

The ground breaking ceremony is an exciting event for Stoke-on-Trent and VINCI Construction UK. It represents the start of a challenging and significant redevelopment of the new city centre bus facility and will open the gates to the £350 million redevelopment of a new shopping and leisure complex in Stoke-on-Trent.

Once the foundations are complete work will start in Spring on creating the bus drivers accommodation building before work starts on erecting the station’s main bus concourse.

Attention to detail

I don’t often write blog posts on here, I generally keep my opinions away from the site other than in the odd comment here or there.

Today I am going to make an exception to my rule and ask why do Stoke-on-Trent City Council seem to have such a lack of attention to detail?

Earlier I published a piece on the consultation for bus re-routing in Hanley. The re-routing needs to be carried out to allow the new bus station to operate.

I have an issue with the way the documents are presented, when you click on the links to view the proposed inbound or outbound bus routes, the maps are presented to you sideways. Why? It takes literally seconds to rotate the files before they are uploaded.

I’m lucky that I am a reasonably technically competent person so for me to rotate the files so I can read them is not a big problem, but a lot of people have little or no technical skills when it comes to computers or the Internet and could struggle trying to do this. More importantly why should I or anyone have to rotate files so we can read them? I don’t think that it is an unreasonable expectation for documents to be orientated the right way on the council website.

Who actually checks the content once it has been published? Every time I publish content on here or on other sites I run, I immediately go and look at it on the site, just to check it and make sure that everything looks and works as it should.

I’m pretty sure that the City Council don’t plan to make things difficult for us to read, I think it is just a lack of attention to detail.

Now while I am talking attention to detail, have a look at the Proposed Traffic Management Measures map that is part of the consultation.

 

Attention to detail isn’t an issue here, everything is detailed, even things that won’t change, all on one map. This cacophony of colour covers every detail of the changes that are proposed to the roads in the city centre, but you can’t see the road names because they have been obliterated by the addition of various coloured arrows and markings.

Bizarrely whoever created the map saw fit to add large black arrows on all one way streets that remain unchanged. Surely the standard implication on a map such as this is, everything is the same unless we tell you otherwise? So why add all this extra confusing detail that isn’t needed, maybe a note on the map stating that, all one way streets will remain the same unless otherwise noted, but I see no need to make this important map even more difficult to read.

Why not make a simple interactive map on-line that shows what the changes are rather than just producing a flat PDF? Someone with half an hour or so to spare could make something like the one below.


View Hanley Proposed Traffic Management in a larger map

The hardest part of creating this map was trying to work out what the actual roads were on the council map! This isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination and I’m sure it could be done a lot more elegantly but it proves a point and shows all the proposed changes.

The regeneration of Hanley as the ‘city centre’ for Stoke-on-Trent and the badly named City Sentral development is allegedly going to put us in the top 5 shopping cities in the UK I heard a few weeks ago. Well if this is the case then we need to be in the top 5 with everything else as well to support it, administration included.

200 years ago Stoke-on-Trent was at the forefront of the industrial revolution & manufacturing, world leaders in ceramics and known across the globe, now we can’t even get a PDF the right way around. Can you imagine Josiah Wedgwood allowing something to go out of his factory with the decoration on sideways?

Whinging about a couple of PDF’s that are not rotated may seem a bit petty, but I think the lack of attention to detail and the, that’ll do attitude, puts us in a bad light. When you see little things like those PDFs or the City Farm Tender document (remember that gem?), it makes you wonder why are we over looked for investment, why don’t we succeed with the bids we put in, is it the lack of attention to detail in the bid documents and presentations?

I want Stoke-on-Trent to improve, I want it to succeed, I want the council to be better. 

We deserve better.

Consultation for Bus Re-routing in Hanley begins

Public consultation on changes to the bus routing in Hanley appears to have begun.

Although there has been no official public announcement about this from Stoke-on-Trent City Council yet, the web page on the council website appears to have been updated on Monday.

It was proposed at the December Cabinet meeting, that public consultation should take place in January & February 2012, with the detailed design phase taking place between February & April in order for the final proposals to be presented to the April Cabinet meeting.

The consultation covers in-bound and out-bound bus routes for the new John Street bus station as well as substantial changes to the traffic flow on roads in the city centre.

According to the agenda pack for the December Cabinet meeting the public consultation will involve a leaflet drop to every address in and adjacent to the city centre as well as a public exhibition of the proposals.

You can view the councils consultation page and the Cabinet meeting agenda item using the links below.