£2m boost for the city centre's first refurb in 25 years
PLANS to transform the city centre in its 'biggest makeover for a quarter of a century' are on course after securing more than £2 million in European funding.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council outlined plans to create new public squares and revamp the appearance of Hanley last year.
But funding for the transformation, which could cost more than £7 million, was reliant on a successful bid to the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Now the ERDF, which is managed by the Government's Department for Communities and Local Government, has confirmed it will invest £2.1 million in the scheme.
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Communities Minister Baroness Hanham CBE said: "To improve the overall perception and performance of an area you have to get the foundations right.
"Stoke-on-Trent city centre is in great need of regeneration to ensure its future is prosperous.
"This has already started with key developments taking place in the city and I am delighted that we are able to offer funding support to activities which complement these developments. From new street furniture to landscaped areas the changes planned will help create an attractive, vibrant and welcoming environment.
"As well as creating something special for local people, I also hope this investment will send a clear signal to private sector investors, helping to continue the much needed and on-going regeneration of the city centre."
Residents, workers and visitors will be able to enjoy newly-landscaped public spaces and street furniture.
The improvements will focus on the areas of Tontine Street, Percy Street and Stafford Street.
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, left, said: "We're delighted to mark the start of these long-awaited works. It's a very exciting project. It will give the area a contemporary city style and feel, but retain its very special character.
"The area will become much more attractive and provide a more welcoming shopping environment, with natural stone paving and granite benches, plus new lighting, signs and trees.
"It's around 25 years since work on this scale and quality was last done in the area so it's literally getting its biggest makeover in a generation."
A £1.4 million first phase to create a smart new pedestrian link between the new bus station and main shopping area is now underway.
The second phase, worth £2.4 million, will see improvements in Tontine Square, Fountain Square, Upper Market Square and Crown Bank, including trees, lighting, new pavements and benches. Further changes will follow in Albion Square. A time scale for the work has not yet been revealed.