The name fora new multi-million-pound city centre redevelopment in Stoke-on-Trent has been revealed.
Etruscan Square, which will incorporate a new conference centre and event space, will be the largest regeneration project witnessed in the city centre in decades, with demolition and land preparation work already at an advanced stage on the seven-acre site.
The development, backed last year by a £20 million investment from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund, will feature a 3,600 capacity arena, 285 high quality residential units, 82,000 sq ft of commercial space and a 138-bed hotel. A brand new 701-space multi-storey car park will also be built on the site of the old Meigh Street car park, which is currently being demolished, to replace and upgrade the offer.
Formerly known as the East-West Precinct, planning applications for the various elements of the Etruscan Square redevelopment are due to be submitted before the end of March, with work on the first phase potentially starting as early as this summer. The historical significance behind the new name has been outlined below:
Etruscan Square is a nod to Stoke-on-Trent’s proud past and a look forward to its bright future. Etruria was an ancient region in Central Italy, located in an area that covered part of what are now Tuscany, Lazio and Umbria. The ancient people of Etruria are identified as Etruscans and were a highly civilised people who produced splendid works of art which were greatly admired in the 18th century.
Josiah Wedgwood was inspired by ancient pottery then generally described as Etruscan. In 1769, Josiah Wedgwood opened the Etruria Works ceramic factory, named after the Etruria district of Italy, where black porcelain was being excavated. Wedgwood found this porcelain inspiring, and his first major commercial success was its duplication with what he called “Black Basalt”. The factory ran for 180 years. Wedgwood’s home, Etruria Hall, was built between 1768-1771 near the factory.
Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for infrastructure, regeneration and heritage, said: “Announcing the name is another significant milestone in this exciting project. We wanted a name that celebrates our past but also inspires hope and confidence for the future, and linking it to one of Stoke-on-Trent’s most famous sons certainly does that. We want Etruscan Square to be a brand that people will instantly recognise and remember, and become a new chapter for the city.
“To have a large development space like this available in the city centre, in such a prominent location and in our ownership, doesn’t happen very often. This is a real once in a generation opportunity to create something unique and lasting for Stoke-on-Trent, that would offer social and economic impact and benefit on an unprecedented scale for the next 20 to 30 years. It will be catalytic in reinvigorating and bringing viability back to the city centre as well as attracting new businesses.
“We were successful with three bids to the Government’s Levelling Up Fund for a total of £56 million, and the funding bid for Etruscan Square was absolutely vital to getting this scheme off the ground. Developments like this don’t happen overnight, and we are looking at a phased delivery here over the next 10 years. Having the funding from Government secured is a major step forward because it not only shows confidence in our vision, but allows us to get started with the development and puts us in a very strong position to bring in private sector investment, like we’ve seen happen at the Smithfield development a short distance away with great success.
“Significantly, the development will also complement the cultural investment made with the opening of the magnificent Spitfire Gallery in September at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Since we bought this site in 2018, we’ve wasted no time in demolishing the eyesore buildings that stood here before and getting the site ready for redevelopment. We’ve made great strides in a relatively short space of time and although there is still a lot of hard work ahead, we are all very excited for the future.”
Proposals for Etruscan Square will be presented to stakeholders, investors and developers at events at Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, in January, and in London next month.