How excited are you with the work taking place at Smithfield right now?
Very excited! It’s great to walk or drive around the city centre and see the cranes on site which shows the momentum not just at Smithfield, but in the city overall.
Each time I go past the site, the buildings seem to have taken another step closer to completion. It will be great when they are both up and running.
How important and significant are the developments at Smithfield?
Hugely important and significant. The city centre has suffered from limited hotel accommodation for a number of years, and that is something we have worked hard on changing. We’re really pleased to have Hilton Garden Inn here and the fact they want to bring their name and brand to the city speaks volumes I think for the direction we are heading in.
The hotel will provide high-quality accommodation to match the growing numbers of visitors we have to the city. It will be a completely new offer for Stoke-on-Trent.
Clayworks offers a residential concept that has not been seen in Stoke-on-Trent before – a renting revolution and a new way of living. Both developments will attract more people to the area who will live, shop, work and stay here, creating additional footfall and providing an economic benefit.
You have some exciting plans at the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, which is just across the road from Smithfield – tell us a bit about them
It’s a fantastic museum and venue for the city with some top class attractions, such as the internationally renowned Staffordshire Hoard.
People outside the city might also be surprised to learn that for a number of years it has housed a Spitfire, which is a nod to its inventor, Reginald Mitchell, who was born in North Staffordshire and educated in the city.
We have received planning permission for a stunning, new £6 million glass-fronted gallery for the Spitfire which will make the plane visible to the public outside. This will really take the museum up another level and become one of the area’s top tourist attractions, and we’re expecting enabling works to start on site in July.
What else is happening in the city centre?
A short distance away from Smithfield, we are knocking down a site known as the former East West Precinct.
The seven-acre site has been an eyesore for a number of years, and the council stepped in and bought the land last year following the collapse of a private development scheme.
Demolition work started in February and the works are due to be completed in August. The redevelopment of this site presents a unique opportunity for the council to deliver something which will benefit the whole of Stoke-on-Trent. It’s a large site with massive amounts of potential.
With the work going on at Smithfield, the Potteries Museum and the East West Precinct, it’s a very exciting time in Stoke-on-Trent right now. Employment growth in Stoke-on-Trent is the fourth fastest in the country – ahead of cities including London, Manchester and Birmingham. The latest UK Powerhouse figures also forecast that Stoke-on-Trent will continue to be among the best for employment growth by the final quarter of 2020 – with a predicted ranking of fourth. The city is on the up.