A press release from Stoke-on-Trent City Council this morning says that the Cabinet have agreed to plans to negotiate the sale of the Slater Street site to Sanctuary Group and developer ID4Living, part of the Seddon Group for a mixed-tenure development.
Stoke-on-Trent’s Etruria Valley is to benefit from an enhanced transport network to boost businesses, after a Government announcement today.
The area will receive £2.5m from the Regional Growth Fund to improve road and rail access to the site, to encourage new and existing businesses to base themselves there.
One of three successful bids in the Stoke-on-Trent area, plans for the Etruria Valley site include improvements at junctions in the north of the site; the construction of two new roads across the core of the area, one providing a route to the north and the other linking up to Festival Way, turning it from a cul-de-sac into a two way route, and the construction of a bridge over the river Trent which runs through the site.
The construction of these link roads is designed to connect Etruria Valley and its extensive employment opportunities to the areas of Burslem, Middleport and the A500, which provides a link between Junction 15 and 16 of the M6 and rail services (and onward links nationally) can be accessed from Longport station immediately to the north of the site and adjacent to the A527/A500 junction.
Plans are also incorporated new roads and junctions to ease access around the site, including Enoch Street, Festival Way and Porthill Road.
This is tremendous news for the city. It could create nearly 1,000 new jobs if existing businesses can expand and new businesses take advantage of the improved road and rail links.
Our Mandate for Change agenda is all about giving businesses the red carpet treatment when it comes to basing themselves in the city. This investment will allow us to create an easily accessible site with good links to national transportation.
Now we must work hard to show the benefits that being in Stoke-on-Trent can have, to encourage firms to relocate here and those that already are here that someone like Etruria Valley contains all the right ingredients for success.”
The average house price in Stoke-on-Trent is the lowest in the country according to figures released by the Land Registry at the end of May 2011.
According to the latest figures the average price of a house in the city is £73,733.
This figure shows average price has reduced by 3.8% over the last month and contributes to an annual reduction of 4.7% to date.
Nationally the average house price is £163,083, a rise of 0.8% over the month but a year to date reduction of 1.3%.
Kingston upon Hull used to have the cheapest average house price but a monthly rise of 0.9%, which equates to an average price of £73,825, has lifted them above Stoke-on-Trent.
Wales has the lowest average house prices.
Merthyr Tydfil has an average of just £69,173 and in Blaenau Gwent it is £72,872.
For Stoke-on-Trent’s neighbours, house sellers have better news.
Staffordshire’s average house price is £134,460 whilst in Shropshire it is £164,347.
House sales are in decline across the country. Sales between November 2010 and February 2011 fell to an average of 46,818 units sold per month. The same period last year saw the number of units sold at 54,479.
There was good news for people who owned properties worth over £1million.
There was a rise of 14% for properties sold over the million pound bracket in England and Wales.
Those looking to sell properties at the lower end of the market were also fairing well with a rise of 22% in sales in units worth below £50,000.
The worse effected is the “Ëœsqueezed middle ground’, properties worth between £50,000 and £200,000 all witnessed reductions in the number of units sold of around 5-6%.
Sales of properties worth between £200,000 and £250,000 were the worse effected with a massive reduction of 18% in the number of units sold.
Stoke-on-Trent residents have been quick to criticise the lack of regeneration in the city for the low house prices.
Dan Heath, aged 34, who owns a property in the city said:
”The news that Stoke has the lowest average house price in the country comes as no surprise to me.
“I used to live in the centre of Burslem and when you look at areas like Middleport that have been blighted by the council’s bulldozers, it can only have a detrimental effect on house prices in the area”.
Paul Holmes, aged 39, owns a property in Bucknall.
”The area that I live is quite nice but the City has a bad reputation.
“There has been no regeneration. We have no decent amenities and the shopping centre in Hanley is less than useless”.
“If my family want to go shopping for the day we go to Trafford Centre or Cheshire Oaks because at least we can finish the day off in a family friendly chain restaurant like Nando’s, Pizza Express, Bella Italia or somewhere like that”.
“Until Stoke has something that attracts people in instead of encouraging them out, the house prices will only go one way – down!”.
Clare Martin, aged 36, lives with her partner Gary in Weston Coyney.
”The council need to start delivering on what they have promised for years.
“That East West project in Hanley is essential to Stoke becoming an attractive place to visit.
“We miss out on so much in this city it is untrue.
“The politicians and especially our MPs need to get their fingers out and work together to rebuild the run down areas in the City which do nothing but bring the house prices down.
“It’s no good folk moving here to take advantage of the low house prices when there is nothing to do in your spare time and the council are closing all the decent pools and the city farm.
A pioneering agreement to help Stoke-on-Trent become the country’s first sustainable city will be signed at a landmark ceremony on Monday (27 September).
Stoke-on-Trent City Council will join with energy company E.ON in a scheme which will deliver millions of pounds of investment to the city to improve the energy efficiency of homes and use green power to drive down residents’ fuel bills and help combat climate change.
As a first stage, the agreement has already seen E.ON provide solar panels to the first 54 council properties in the city over the next few months ““ the first time any of the council’s 19,000-strong housing stock will be powered by such green energy.
To kick-start this programme the council has already begun a procurement process which will provide a way of fitting solar panels to all suitable council properties over the next few years.
It will also commit E.ON to being one partner in a scheme which will see 1,000 council and privately-owned houses in Northwood and Birches Head, and Middleport benefit from a range of measures, subject to individual property surveys. The measures include the installation of:
*External wall insulation
*New energy efficient boilers in place of old ones
*Air source heat pumps
*A district heating system
Council leader Mohammed Pervez said: “This is a hugely significant scheme for Stoke-on-Trent; nowhere else in the country has made such a strong commitment to using sustainable energies and empowering communities to reduce their carbon footprint.
“Other areas of the country will follow our lead, and this initiative demonstrates the city council’s commitment to raising the quality of life for city residents by improving the energy efficiency of their homes, reducing fuel bills and saving the environment.”
The signing ceremony will see E.ON become the first energy supplier to join a council-led low carbon task force.
The city council has already secured £2.3 million funding from E.ON as part of the government-backed Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP). Only 100 areas, out of 4,200 eligible areas country-wide, have been selected for the CESP initiative. The CESP scheme requires energy suppliers to fund and deliver energy efficiency and low carbon measures into homes within low income areas.
The city council is investing a total of £1.8 million from its housing capital programmes for the initiatives, which will bring in £7 million of private sector investment from energy suppliers over the next two years.
“We are delighted that such a major player as E.ON has come forward to show its confidence and commitment to Stoke-on-Trent. This agreement will ensure council residents benefit from cutting edge innovation and knowledge from a world-leading energy supplier.
“The scheme will create local work for local suppliers and help make our city more green and attractive to businesses.
“The benefits of our investment in these schemes will be directly enjoyed by the residents of properties which are fitted with new technology such as solar panels. It will not only generate hundreds of pounds of savings on residents’ fuel bills but it will also have the potential to generate income over the lifetime of the programme, which can be reinvested into other forms of energy saving technology for other council tenants.”
“Everyone ““ customers, local authorities and energy companies ““ has a part to play if we are to lower energy bills and reduce our effect on the planet.
“Schemes like this ““ working on the ground today ““ will pave the way for the massive energy efficiency drive that the Secretary of State spoke about last week.
“If we can work together as a community, as a town or as a city; if we can build energy efficiency into our everyday lives ““ homes, businesses, how we travel, how we shop ““ then we can all become “Ëœenergy fit’ and really start to make a difference.”
“For us, being energy fit is about thinking differently. Everyone’s heard of “reduce, reuse, recycle”, and now we need “Ëœinsulate, moderate, generate’.
“It’s about insulating our homes properly and moderating the way we use energy to cut out waste. And it’s also about generating the power we need, where we need it. And that’s exactly what we’re looking at here in Stoke.”
The solar panel pilot scheme will involve a total of 54 homes in Warren Road, Chell Heath. It is anticipated that the majority of the properties will be fitted with solar panels by Christmas
Samantha Bryson, who lives on Warren Road with husband Stephen and children Madison, 7, and Keegan, 5, are the first city council tenants to benefit from the solar panel scheme.
“We are really excited by the scheme, and friends and relatives have asked us to tell them how it all works. Like a lot of people, we tend to use a lot of energy in the home. For example, the children use games consoles and I like to watch soaps on the TV. We also like to leave the radio on for the dog when we are out. The solar panels will help us save money on our fuel bills and we are really looking forward to seeing them in action.”
Over 300 members of Middleport’s community turned out for fun and frolics as they gathered under beautiful sunny skies to take part in an action packed activity day.
Visitors both young and old flocked to Middleport Park and surrounding open space in Stoke-on-Trent, where children were transformed into their favourite characters by face painters whilst others enjoyed the climbing wall, bouncy castle or took advantage of the free health checks available.
Organised by Midland Heart in partnership with Stoke City Council and Renew North Staffordshire, this is the fourth year the event has taken place.
“This event has grown year-on-year and provides an essential date in the calendar for the community where they can get together and have fun in a safe environment.
“Due to the great weather, the turnout has been fantastic and we are already looking ahead to next year’s event.”
Visitors to the event also had the opportunity to speak to local police and police community support officers, or show off their sporting abilities by taking part in a mini Olympics. Everyone also had the opportunity to enter a variety of competitions to win fantastic prizes such as a MP3 player, digital camera and travel cases.
Residents are being encouraged to grow their own fruit and vegetables in a project designed to get communities active and healthy.
Project Grow is a pilot scheme being trialled in Port Street and Travis Street, in Middleport. On Saturday (14) residents are being given the chance to have a literal “Ëœtaster’ as staff encourage people to sign up to the courses and offer free cookery tasting sessions and advice at the Middleport Park Community Fun Day between 12pm and 4.30pm.
The scheme, which will give tips and advice on exercise, gardening and using fresh food to cook, is set to start in September to prepare residents for next year’s growing season. It follows research by VAGA Associates for NHS Stoke on Trent that found nearly half (42.7%) of residents in Middleport would be interested in growing their own food.
“Project Grow is a fantastic initiative giving people the chance to learn new skills and improve not only their health but their family’s lifestyle as well. I know from my own experience that it is all too easy to turn to takeaways and microwave dinners for food as they are quick and easy to prepare. Growing your own food is not only fun but a great way of getting active and eating something fresh and tasty.”
The scheme is being trialled in Port Street and Travis Street as part of a RENEW project to regenerate the area. If successful it is hoped, with future funding, the pilot can be expanded into the wider Middleport area.
The event at Middleport Park will help sign up prospective students, explain how the project will be run, how the community can get involved and provide workshop taster sessions. There will be a number of activities at the stand including a plant giveaway and cookery tasting sessions.
In Burslem South, which covers Middleport, only 1 in 5 (21.3%) of the population live within 500m of a fresh food retailer. However, 98.9% of residents live within 500m of a fast food retailer.
Research undertaken by VAGA associates for NHS Stoke on Trent in 2009 found that nearly half (42.7%) of Middleport residents would be interested in growing their own food.
Project Grow is designed to help residents to live healthier lifestyles by growing their own food. This is not only economical for residents but also encourages people to get active, using gardening as a form of exercise, and also helps people to think more about what they eat and the meals they prepare.
The project is designed to compliment initiatives being run by NHS Stoke on Trent, such as Living well Stoke on Trent and My Health Matters, to reduce the cost of obesity to the health service. In 2007, the cost to NHS Stoke on Trent of treating diseases related to obesity was £77.9 million, around 20% of its total service budget. This figure is predicted to rise to £86.4 million by 2015.
Chris Leese, from NHS Stoke on Trent’s Lifestyle Support Programme, said: “We are keen to support communities’ active involvement in local health improvement schemes.”
Residents signed up to the programme will undertake a series of workshops that will prepare them for the 2011 growing season. Workshops will cover topics such as cooking, exercise, gardening and healthy eating.
At the end of the programme, residents with excellent attendance will be rewarded with a 3ft by 3ft square garden planter to grow their own fruit and vegetables at home.
During the programme it is also envisaged that a “Ëœcommunity booklet’ will be produced containing recipes, gardening ideas and local history for the area.
Stoke residents will have the chance to step into the past over the Bank Holiday weekend as they are given a rare opportunity to learn about some of Stoke’s most historic buildings.
Local historian Andrew Dobraszczyc will be leading a walk around some of the wharves, warehouses, potteries, flour mills and lime kilns that line the Trent & Mersey Canal through Middleport and Longport.
The walk taking place from 2.30pm on Sunday 30th May will give people a rare opportunity to explore Longport Wharf and take a look at one of the two warehouses which date back to the 1840s. Longport was a significant inland port and the warehouses would have been used to store crates and hogsheads packed with pottery from factories in Tunstall and Burslem ready for transportation to Liverpool where they would be shipped over to North America. The warehouses would also have been used to store hats made in Newcastle-Under-Lyme which were then exported to South America and the Carribean.
As well as visiting the wharf the walk will also explore the history of The Packhorse Inn complete with stables where horses that pulled the barges would sleep ready for the next day’s work.
The walk has been organised by British Waterways as part of the ‘Canals in the Community’ programme, a Big Lottery Funded scheme aimed at engaging people with their local canal and bringing a sense of pride and ownership over their surroundings.
Canals for the Community Project Officer, Louise North said;
“These buildings were the centre of their community and they have some fascinating stories to tell. This walk presents the ideal opportunity for the local community to rediscover these stories and really immerse themselves in the history of their city.”
The walk is free of charge and suitable for people of all ages. For further information and to book your place on the walk please contact Louise North on 07827 083538 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Mason the BBC economics reporter did an item tonight in which Stoke received prominence. In the weeks before a General Election Mason has been touring Britain looking at the economic state of the country before we go to the polls.
The section on Stoke looked at the negatives and featured an interview with a woman Wendy Johnson who had lost jobs at Cartwright and Edwards’s potbank, Wedgwood, Creda and eventually Remploy. As Mason remarked her employment history covered the old industry like Pottery and the newer industries that were an attempt to diversify the economy after the war where she made spin dryers. But ultimately all had failed.
Mason then was in a boxing club in Bentilee talking to local youths who certainly had hope and energy and spoke of the good people who lived in the City. He produced a baleful list of statistics on teenage pregnancy, ill health and mortality statistics that illustrated the difficulties the area had in adjusting to a post-industrial world. The camera panned over aerial shots of derelict land and abandoned factories. He looked at the old site of the Staffordshire Pottery at Meir lamenting that the future must surely include “something more than supermarkets and retail warehouses”.
Mason was then on a canal barge in Middleport. He remarked how Stoke was at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the role of canals were the Internet of their day, offering communication channels and the means to transport goods quickly to the ports. He conversed with the Tory Social commentator Philip Blond how the 18th century had in place factors that lead to places like Stoke being a success. Such factors such as the de-centralisation of capital, the free flow of labour, greater mobility and the penetration of ideas through the growth of journals
Blond believed that we now had a sclerotic system with capital and power centralised although he conceded that access to information was far greater than the 18th century. The helicopter flew over moorland with Mason offering the view that the future must include developing a low carbon economy although in a landscape of wind farms its sobering to realise that there is no British manufacturer of wind turbines. He also believed that the future economy must be better geared to making things rather than the financial industry.
I believe that Mason is right. We should be looking at developing local entrepreneurs, or at least making it an attractive prospect for people with ideas to move to the area. Places like Stoke should not turn their back on manufacturing but instead embrace it and seek to build a future where industry and “making things” still played a key role. But this would be an industrial city based on smaller scale speciality and craft manufacturing,
Tomorrow Mason looks at signs of hope in the Stoke economy and the role that women are playing in the revival of the pottery industry.
Residents are being invited to have their say on the latest phase of redevelopment work in Middleport.
The houses in Port Street, Travers Street, Harper Street and Burgess Street, close to the historic Middleport Pottery, are earmarked for regeneration activity and local residents are being urged to air their views on the plans at special meetings over the next week.
Proposed development activity in the RENEW Area of Major Intervention (AMI) includes heritage refurbishment and two-into-one redevelopment of more than 40 homes in Port Street. Remodelling of properties in Travers Street is also proposed, with eventual replacement by high-spec new homes.
Community and environmental improvements to enhance the appearance of the local area are also in the pipeline.
The plans have been drawn up following almost 12 months of consultation and “Ëœmaster planning’ with local residents, and this week’s meetings mark the next important phase of discussion.
Councillor Brian Ward, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for regeneration, said:
“Our ambition is to make this area of Middleport a place with a future ““ where people want to stay, bring up their families and have an excellent quality of life.
“We have consulted with residents every step of the way and are continuing to do so ““ ensuring that we deliver quality housing of choice which residents really embrace.
“I would urge local people to come along, have their say and grasp this exciting opportunity to influence how their community is shaped.”
Tentative timescales for regeneration have been put forward, pending consultation with local residents. Heritage refurbishment and redevelopment of homes in Port Street is expected to be the first project later this year; two-into-one work may begin in 2011/12.
The regeneration of the area is then expected to attract private sector development partners to build new properties in Travers Street from 2013 onwards.
Plans and examples of similar heritage redevelopment will be on display at the consultation events which are at:
* Middleport Medical Centre, Newport Lane, Thursday March 11th, 2-7pm
* Middleport Park Bowling Club, Newport Lane, Saturday March 13th, 10am-2pm
* Middleport Medical Centre, Newport Lane, Monday 15th 2-7pm
The next step will be for a “Ëœdevelopment brief’ to be written by April this year, taking into account feedback from the consultation process.
The development brief is a document which sets out clear guidelines about the quality of housing and local environment, what materials will be acceptable and any important features that must be incorporated into the new development. The brief also ensures that any private sector development also meets the high class standards and aspirations for the area.
The results of the development brief will be shared with the local community on completion.
Hundreds of homes have been demolished, whilst more remain derelict, shuttered-up with painted boards in a vain attempt to make the place less like a slum, and yet the city council and Renew are still pressing on with their plans to throw people out of their homes, against their will.
This week, councillors will contemplate more clearance which partner Renew favours for the scrap heap in Middleport, an area which has already seen the unpopular demise of the vicinity of Slater Street for what residents
could see as no good reason. Some in fact still remain amid the desolation awaiting a fair deal in recompense for
their untimely and unwanted move.
Over in Eaton Street, Hanley, after a couple of years of struggle from the half of the homeowners who could be
bothered to dare to argue with the council that they deserved to stay in the houses they thought were theirs for keeps, the block is still standing, awaiting a fate which is yet to be announced.
But the so-called regeneration machine just keeps finding excuses to announce the next bulldozing project. The council meeting will take place in private this Wednesday to debate the fate of this new set of 127 homes in Shirley Street, Middleport, which for whatever reason have been selected by Renew’s team of redevelopment experts to be either knocked down, do them up, or just leave them the way they are.
And according to The Sentinel, Renew has already indicated that it prefers the clearance to make for ‘better quality
The question is, how dare they? How dare Renew have a preferred option of people’s houses? I have interviewed
scores and scores of people who have been directly affected by these Compulsory Purchase Orders, and I have yet to come across someone who owned their house in one of the earmarked areas say they were in favour of the proposals. In Slater Street, the overwhelming opinion was that they might as well take what they can get from the
council, since they believed they had no choice but to leave their homes, even though they didn’t want to. Others
stayed on to fight a long, unsuccessful battle which ended up being a waste of time after the public inquiry found that the CPO should stand and the people would have no choice but to up and leave their properties.
In Eaton Street, many residents fought against the council in another case which saw a public inquiry find in favour
of the authority’s proposals.
People like Eve Maley in Eaton Street, as far away as Elizabeth Pascoe in Liverpool, took their plight to the High Court when they found themselves in the same position, and now even talk of some regret the move, despite vowing never to leave their homes against their will, having wasted years of their lives on a fruitless campaign which took a huge toll on their health, their wallets, and their sanity.
Yet the authorities along with partners like Renew, continue to make decisions like this which they believe are right for ‘the city’, with no regard for those who get in their way, even if they are the ones who made the houses their homes. Why should people be forced out of their homes, their community shattered, and forced to move to a new area where they don’t know a soul, and have to fight for a fair price for their property, all in the name of the regeneration of Stoke? It’s simply not right. But, with those who chose not to accept a fate allotted to them taking their cries of help all the way to the High Court and still found no relief, it appears there’s no stopping them.