Work is set to start this summer on the first stage of a multi-million pound scheme to radically transform the appearance and infrastructure of streets and roads around Staffordshire University and Stoke railway station – making it a much more welcoming environment for visitors, residents and students.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is working in partnership with the university to make sure the maximum benefits are achieved from the arrival of the extra 2,400 students who are expected to enrol at the Leek Road campus, in Shelton, this September.
A total of £8.5 million has been earmarked to be spent on revamping the appearance of the area over a three-year period with a series of public realm improvements, such as new paving and seating areas, and reducing traffic around the university and train station. As well as improving access for pedestrians and cyclists, the work will also support the university’s development proposals and stimulate further private, public and third sector investment in the area.
The work will be funded by the city council through its capital programme, with up to £4 million coming from the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The first stage, which is due to start in August, involves:
- Improving the appearance of Thornton Road and Spencer Road by upgrading the carriageway and pavements. The number of parking spaces is under consideration – a reduction could provide wider pavements for better pedestrian routes between the College Road and Leek Road campuses. New trees will also be planted to improve the quality of the street scene
- Improving the connection between Stoke town and the railway station/university by revamping the pedestrian route. The underpass beneath the railway bridge will be improved for cyclists and pedestrians and bridge parapets across the A500 repainted. New wayfinding signs would also be installed and new paving installed on Glebe Street.
The work is expected to be completed by May next year. Later phases of the improvements include:
- Improving the public realm on College Road, Leek Road and Station Road
- Reducing traffic on Station Road and creating a high quality landscaping and seating area opposite the station.
- Better information and directions to attractions for people coming out of the railway station
- Remodelling the Leek Road/Station Road junction
- Reducing congestion on Leek Road and providing better pedestrian crossing points
- Introducing floral displays to Winton Square, Station Road, College Road and Glebe Street
- A new vehicle access point to the rear of the station off Glebe Street for passenger drop-offs
Councillor Jack Brereton, cabinet member for transport and regeneration, said: “We are working very closely with the university to make sure everyone gets the maximum benefits from the influx of thousands of extra students to Stoke town and the city as a whole. As the university grows and expands, so must the infrastructure around it and this is part of that.
“The station is a major gateway to the city for visitors from all over the country and beyond. Thousands of people every week step out of the main doors and get their first impression of Stoke-on-Trent, and it’s absolutely vital that we are giving out a positive one.”
As details of each phase are developed, members of the public will be able to have their say on the proposals.
Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP chairman David Frost CBE said: “Improving this major gateway will see a real transformation taking place in this important area. It will be the first in a sequence of improvement schemes that will improve the transport network to reduce congestion and enable growth in the city.”
Margaret Monkton, director of finance and infrastructure at the university, said: “This programme of improvements evidences the really strong partnership between the city council and university.
“Thornton Road and Spencer Road form an important link between the university’s College Road and Leek Road sites and these developments will really enhance the main pedestrian routes between our campuses, making it safer and more attractive for the many staff, students and residents who already regularly use this route.
“Coming at a time when the university is transferring students from our Beaconside campus, we believe further planned works to develop the University Quarter and the surrounding station area will improve the environment and reduce traffic congestion for the benefit of the university, the local community and visitors to the city.”