Work starts on £7m community hub

Residents are set to celebrate the start of work on a multi-million pound scheme to create new homes, shops and community facilities on a Stoke-on-Trent estate.

An afternoon of fun activities will take place on Wednesday (24 March) to mark work to create a £7.1m facility that will transform Ingestre Square, Blurton’s main district centre. The Stoke-on-Trent City Council-backed project will create:

41 mixed tenure affordable homes – 22 two-bedroom apartments for social rent, four three-bedroom houses for social rent, two four-bedroom houses for social rent, seven three-bedroom houses for shared ownership, and six four-bedroom houses for shared ownership.

A community hub which will deliver social and learning activities for local people and offer corporate space for hire.

Six new retail units.

Car parking, landscaping, secure yards and appropriate signage.

The scheme has been funded by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Aspire Housing and the Homes and Communities Agency. Building work is expected to be completed in early 2012.

Residents and children from local schools will mark the start of the work with an afternoon of activities between 3pm – 5pm including hot food, face painting, balloon modelling and caricature drawing.

Young people from Blurton along with children from Blurton High, Blurton Primary, Newstead Primary and Sutherland Primary schools have created artwork to decorate hoardings around the site while work takes place. The children have worked with a community artist on the project.

Councillor John Daniels, cabinet member for housing, environment and neighbourhood services, said: “This is a red letter day for Blurton, and we want to give the whole community the chance to celebrate. Ingestre Square has unfortunately fallen into a dilapidated state and its redevelopment has been a priority identified in detailed masterplanning work for the area.

“The provision of shared ownership housing will help local families remain in the area and get a foot on the home ownership ladder.

“The initiative will improve the appearance of the area and will reinforce Ingestre Square as a vibrant and vital centre for neighbourhood activity.

“I’d like to congratulate everyone involved in this scheme – residents associations, ward councillors and officers – in helping to make this dream a reality.”

The new community hub will be run by a management committee responsible for governance, finance, legal and administrative issues regarding the facility, and will give local people the chance to develop their skills and promote the venue to businesses.

Will Nixon, director of regeneration at Aspire Housing, said: “Aspire is delighted to be leading the redevelopment of Ingestre Square on behalf of the city council.

“Our overall aim is to create prosperous communities and this redevelopment will provide both a renewed central area for Blurton, as well as essential affordable housing.”

Blurton’s ward councillors have welcomed the start of work.

Cllr Brian Ward said: “This scheme will provide a much-needed focal point for residents in Blurton. It is a massive investment for the area and it is vitally important that we keep community facilities.

“The Blurton area is a large estate and the new shops and community hub will act as a focal point which will pull residents together. It will give residents a place to meet up and get involved in local events and issues.”

Cllr Roy Naylor said: “This is the start of a new era for Blurton. These facilities have been hard fought for and it is an excellent achievement for the local community who have been heavily involved in developing the plans since day one.”