Owners of historic buildings in Longton town centre can get help to repair their properties and bring them back to life as part of a new partnership scheme.

The Longton ‘Partnership Schemes in Conservation Areas’ (PSiCA) project will give building owners in the town’s conservation area the chance to apply for grant aid for work to improve their properties.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has successfully bid for £300,000 from Historic England towards the three-year scheme that follows a similar project in Stoke town centre, which saw around £900,000 of improvements carried out to buildings including the Sutherland Chambers. The city council will also provide funding of £300,000 and with private sector contributions added, it is estimated more than £800,000 will be invested in Longton as part of the scheme.

The scheme will provide grants towards the repairs and reinstatement of shop fronts on the route between Times Square and Gladstone Pottery Museum, as well as grants towards the conversion of underused upper floors to create living accommodation. It is hoped this support will help reinvigorate the town centre and to create better links between the town and the museum.

The launch of the scheme follows Longton being awarded Heritage Action Zone status by Historic England in 2017 and builds on the refurbishment work already carried out at the Town Hall, which underwent a £1.8 million renovation in 2019.

Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage, said: “The launch of this scheme is great news for Longton and means more than £800,000 will be invested in the town’s conservation area over the next three years to improve its visual appearance and bring empty properties back to life. This is a significant boost for the area that will increase confidence as we emerge out of the pandemic and build a better, brighter and more prosperous future for the city.

“We’ve worked closely with our friends at Historic England to secure this funding, which comes on the back of the very successful Stoke town PSiCA scheme, and we want to see all that good work repeated in Longton. We have an excellent record working with Historic England and the fact they are back in the city investing more money and working with us again is a vote of confidence in what we are doing and our work to protect the city’s heritage, and breathe new life into our town centres.”

Eilis Scott, Midlands Regional Director for Historic England said: “We are delighted to support Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the local community of Longton with this partnership scheme. Supporting businesses through investing in heritage delivers good results for people who want to look after and celebrate the places they care about. We hope this scheme will help unlock the potential of Longton and help it thrive as a place to work, live and visit.”

Grants for properties within Longton Town Conservation Area will be available for up to 80 per cent of professional fees and up to 80 per cent of external works, including – but not limited to – the repair or replacement of windows, rendering, brick and stonework, roofs, chimney pots, rainwater goods, boundary walls, gates, and the restoration of lost architectural features. Grants for the conversion of upper floors to living accommodation to ‘first fix’ will be available up to 50 per cent.

Any business owners who would like more information about the scheme and how to apply, should contact the Stoke-on-Trent Ceramic HAZ project officer zoe.sutherland@stoke.gov.uk or call 01782 232477.

(Main image Stoke-on-Trent City Councillor James Smith and Historic England regional director Eilis Scott in Longton.)

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