Council leaders have unveiled their 10-year masterplan to revitalise Stoke-on-Trent city centre with a tram station, an indoor arena and a multi-storey car park.
The ambitious vision for the East-West development site in Hanley also features new homes, a hotel and a public transport hub.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council leaders say the multi-million pound proposals could take more than 10 years to be realised, but that plans for the site need to be developed now to ensure they are ready to go once funding has been secured.
The development would take place in stages, starting with a new multi-storey car park followed by a hotel and residential scheme.
Councillor Dan Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration and transport, told Stoke-on-TrentLive : “This is going to be a 10 year-plus plan. It’s going to be a while before all of this happens, but you have to start somewhere.
“The arena/conference centre will be the final thing to get started. The Covid situation has clearly had a big impact in lots of areas,particularly in relation to large venues.
“When we unveiled our plans for the arena, one issue that came up a lot was how we would be able to get so many people to and from the site from other places, which is a good point.
“So that is why we’re looking at a tram or light rail system. This is something that we need to be considering anyway – if we’re going to meet our climate change targets then we need to increase use of public transport.
“But this is also about spreading the benefits of the East-West redevelopment across the city. It’s not just about regenerating Hanley.”
He added: “People in Stoke-on-Trent are probably not going to be catching a tram in this decade. But the idea is to have a shovel-ready scheme prepared that we can show to the government. That is what civil servants look for.
“We’ve not really had that long-term ambition in Stoke-on-Trent. Part of that is due to short-termism, both among politicians and officers.”
So far, more than £5 million has been spent by the city council to acquire and clear the East-West site after developer Realise abandoned its plans to transform it into a retail hub.
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Jonathan Bellamy, chairman of the City Centre Business Improvement District, has welcomed the regeneration plans for Hanley.
He said: “The ideas, scale and scope of the development look ambitious, which is really important for taking our city centre forward, not only locally but regionally and nationally.
“It is also a huge chunk of our city centre space, much of which has been unproductive for at least ten years already, so it is vital we see these wonderful plans come to fruition as soon as possible.”