An exciting new urban quarter is to be developed at the Swift House site – near to Stoke-on-Trent’s railway station.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is working with award-winning social impact developer Capital & Centric – the stars of BBC2 documentary Manctopia – to create a new urban quarter next to the city’s main train station.

The plans will see the Swift House site, which is owned by the council, renamed The Goods Yard and transformed with around 180 new homes, a 150 bed hotel, 25,000 square ft of workspaces and 10,000 square ft of retail and leisure space.

Located next to Stoke-on-Trent train station, which will be served in the future by HS2, and on the doorstep of Staffordshire University, the Trent and Mersey Canal and the A500, the site is in an ideal location for commuters, students, visitors and businesses.

The plans include demolishing the existing building but keeping and reimagining its locally listed, vaulted basement, which historically served as a goods yard and interchange between the railway and the canal. It will be opened up to the public as a workspace and leisure venue that will be known as Vaults Warehouse. While plans continue to be drawn up, the intention is to attract pop-up operators to the site as soon as possible to start bringing it back to life.

An animated outdoor public space will link the development to the wider area, connecting The Goods Yard with the train station and canal, with an ambition to create a water-taxi to Stoke City’s bet365 Stadium – just one mile away. The public will be asked to come up with a name for the new area at a later date.

Councillor Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “We’ve seen so many positive and exciting developments in recent years but for me, this is the one that really grabs the headlines and will redefine the future of Stoke-on-Trent. There was a time in the past when we could only have dreamed of attracting an award-winning developer like Capital and Centric to come and work in the city, so I think it speaks volumes for how far we have come, our ambition and the direction we are moving in. There is no doubt in the huge potential of this site – one of the most prominent, underdeveloped pieces of land along the HS2 route nationally. It’s location, next to so many key sites and the superb road, rail and canal links make the development an excellent opportunity for a range of occupiers and a true once in a lifetime opportunity for Stoke-on-Trent to have something bold and unique.

“This will be an iconic and important development not just for Stoke-on-Trent but the whole of the Midlands that will make people sit up and take notice of the resurgence that is happening here. A waterside food and drink offer with mooring facilities for passing canal boats would be a Premier League attraction for any city and it’s exactly what we want and what we deserve.

“We started looking at ways to transform this warehouse with its secret basement back in 2017 and we’ve taken our time to find a partner who shares our social values and will promote the use of local supply chains, training and employment. Over the last three years, Stoke-on-Trent has had one of the strongest and best performing economies anywhere in the UK which we’ve achieved by pushing for the best for our city every single day and championing the area at every opportunity, from local media interviews to conversations in the corridors of power in Westminster.

“Even in the darkest grip of the pandemic we had projects ongoing or ready to start and investors lined up to work with us, and I’m really confident all of the hard work that has been put in will see the city come out in a strong position. We’re not waiting for the starting pistol to sound, we’re already out of the blocks creating a city for the future and there is so much more to come.”

The council has entered into a pre-construction partnership with Bowmer & Kirkland construction group, who have appointed Capital & Centric as a development partner to work up detailed designs for the development of the site and secure planning consent. That would pave the way for the scheme to be developed, which could potentially start as early as next summer and would take around two-and-a-half years to complete. The council first put the site forward as a development opportunity at the MIPIM property and investment conference in 2018 and has been involved in ongoing discussions with development companies since then.

Capital & Centric is famed for its high quality and bold designs and focus on creating a positive social impact. The award-winning developer spends on average £2 million a week on regeneration and currently has five projects totalling £500 million under construction which employ more than 650 people. They are already working in partnership with a number of local authorities including Rochdale, Stockport and Bolton, with a focus on delivering a positive social impact for every project they work on. This will be the developer’s first project in Stoke-on-Trent.

Tim Heatley, co-founder of Capital & Centric, said: “We’re super excited to be undertaking our first project in Stoke-on-Trent. We’ve got the opportunity to create something really special here that can transform this part of the city. This will be a new urban quarter, with design led homes, a hotel, and spaces for local businesses to locate. We’re also looking to open the stunning basement vaults that sit alongside the canal up to the public, with maybe a waterside bar or restaurant. High quality, outdoor public space will connect the site to the wider area and draw people in, creating a vibrant new destination. While we’re working up the plans we’re looking for pop ups to use the space so if you’ve got an idea, get in touch.”

(Main image Cllr Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, and Tim Heatley co-founder of Capital & Centric.)

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