£4m to create a good impression
MORE than £4 million will be spent transforming the area outside Stoke railway station and providing a high speed bus link to the city centre.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is currently in talks with six property owners who own frontages to Winton Square, in Stoke, over its revived Station Gateway project.
New figures show the authority expects to spend £4.1 million on the plans, which will also see a significantly improved public transport link between the station, Staffordshire University and the city centre.
A total of £1.5 million will be ploughed into improving Winton Square and Station Road to create a better first impression for visitors exiting the city's main station.
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Features are likely to incorporate new seating areas and lighting, and could also include public art or a fountain.
Measures to improve the transport link between the station and Hanley could include the removal of speed bumps on College Road.
Funding for the project will be topped up by a successful bid for £4.9 million in Government cash to cut congestion and improve the region's bus links, as reported by The Sentinel yesterday.
It follows several years of complaints from business leaders that commuters and visitors arriving at the station do not understand how to get to the city centre.
Talks are also ongoing with Network Rail over improvements to the station and a new use for the goods yard on Station Road.
Traders' group the City Centre Partnership welcomed the investment but said full consultation is needed to make sure every business benefits.
Spokesman Doug Wardle said: "It is very confusing for visitors who come out of the station into no man's land. This is desperately needed.
"There should be allowances for discussions with existing businesses.
"They will have to consider whether the buses go straight to the new bus station, which would benefit City Sentral but disadvantage Potteries Shopping Centre, or around the whole ring road."
Mavis Brown, of North Staffordshire public transport users' group Aces, said: "The main issue will be solving the general problem of traffic congestion on Station Road. If they are able to do that I think everything else will fall into place."
Delays to the project were compounded when the Government wound up Renew North Staffordshire, which was originally set to fund the high speed link.
The Station Gateway plans are considered pivotal to the ongoing regeneration of the city centre, where council leaders expect visitor numbers to swell significantly as a result of developments like the £350 million City Sentral shopping complex.