Sunday, 3 February 2013
The future of Stoke town
My allotment plot sits perched above Stoke town, the original town in the city of Stoke-on-Trent. Currently the town is home to the City Council's main Civic Centre with all its workers, but there are serious plans underway to move this up into Hanley, seemingly purely in order to underpin city-centre trade. At the same time, Staffordshire University's Stafford campus is being serious considered for eventual removal to the Stoke-on-Trent campus, bringing a welcome "3,400 students and 455 members of staff" to the city. But I was wondering... where exactly will all these people fit? Would the University flatten some of the Shelton terrace houses and/or take a chunk of Hanley Park? Unlikely. Expand toward the river, perhaps onto the big allotments site there? Unlikely, again. It's floodplain. Then it struck me — the logical place would be in the Council's huge vacated Civic Centre in Stoke town, connected to the current campus with the long-awaited and vital new pedestrian bridge across the A500 and canal. Very little additional new-build building would be required. While the move of the Civic Centre up to Hanley seems unlikely to have the promised wider benefits for city-centre trade (other than for Tesco), it could actually be good for Stoke town — if it allows the University to consolidate and open up the town to the main campus and intercity train station via a major new bridge. It'd certainly be good to have creative degree courses like Videogame Design in the city, and having the engineering and computing side of the Uni up here would also give a big boost to the new Science Centre aspect of the Stoke campus. Spode, next to the Civic Centre, could benefit by becoming artists' and industrial design studios, alongside a heritage site run by Heritage Management students. The town's terraces and local flats would benefit in terms of house prices. The town's fine pubs would continue to do a good trade, albeit aimed more at students than Council officers.