£18m road to help kick-start Etruria Valley jobs bid
PUBLIC funding of £18 million will be spent on building a new dual carriageway into one of the city's biggest business parks.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is hoping to attract dozens of new businesses and create hundreds of jobs with a major expansion of Etruria Valley.
The site must compete with emerging business parks such as Redhill in Stafford and i54 near Wolverhampton.
Both have received millions in public funding – and i54 was named as a Government enterprise zone shortly before Etruria Valley was overlooked.
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The city council is to offer fast-track planning permission and tailored advice for land in Etruria Valley.
But current access to the site using Etruria Road and Forge Lane is already overloaded and the council is now pledging to spend £18 million over the next three years on long-delayed plans for a dedicated link road.
Doug Wardle, spokesman for traders' group City Centre Partnership, said: "The city council should be applauded for trying to kick-start the economy.
He said: "Nationally, everybody is crying out for more enterprise and investing in the building of this road will help do that.
"If they're successful in expanding the business park it will bring money and jobs back into the city."
North Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce has also backed the plans, which it believes will create new jobs.
Genr8, which is building the Central Business District (CBD) and new council headquarters, opposed expansion of Etruria Valley over concerns it may attract businesses which would otherwise be based in the heart of Hanley.
A new carriageway will link the site to the Wolstanton junction of the A500, with two bridges carrying traffic over the West Coast main line and watercourse.
The council still hopes to raise millions by asking developers moving into the park to contribute to the road, in addition to providing its own funding.
Money will be drawn from the authority's capital investment programme, which uses mostly-borrowed money to fund major infrastructure projects.
Many schemes in the programme, including plans to improve links between Stoke station and Hanley, have been scaled back to facilitate spending of up to £55 million on a new HQ and the city centre CBD.
Councillor Dave Conway, leader of the opposition City Independents, said: "I think people will be very interested when they make it clear where this money is coming from. They are borrowing money like it is going out of fashion."
Council planners hope to extend Etruria Valley to Middleport, designating land close to the estate for waterside housing and linking new residential developments to the former Corus mill with a second new road.
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: "A provision of £18 million has been made in the capital programme to support infrastructure developments at Etruria Valley.
"It has always been expected that a proportion of the investment required will be provided by partner funding and that situation remains."