One of Stoke’s most historic buildings, the Wedgwood Institute in Burslem, is due to be brought back to life - as the first phase of a landmark regeneration project which could create up to 150 job gets under way.
Initial building work on the site is scheduled to start later this month (February) and should be completed in July, when the ground floor will be opened up for interim uses, such as events and exhibitions which can be enjoyed by the public.
The Grade II-listed building, which dates back to 1863, has been awarded European Regional Development Fund (£295,000) and Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) (£262,000) grants under the Burslem Building Improvement Scheme (THI3)* totalling £557,000.
This, combined with contributions of £200,000 and £95,000 from English Heritage and Stoke-on-Trent City Council respectively, sees a total of £853,000 made possible through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Townscape Heritage Initiative programme, which will allow urgent roof and weatherproofing repairs, and make the ground floor accessible.
Last year, Stoke-on-Trent City Council agreed to transfer the Wedgwood Institute to The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, which is now developing plans to restore the whole building and adapt it as a centre for start-up businesses.
The Prince’s charity estimates that the institute, could provide space for around 20 to 25 businesses, creating up to 150 jobs, and also accommodate meetings, professional training and mentoring.
Ros Kerslake, chief executive of The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, said: “The confirmation of funding is a great boost and it’s very exciting to be starting on the construction work this month.
“The programme is helping to reverse the decline of our best-loved historic townscapes.
“This funding and the recognition that comes with it show how important the Wedgwood Institute is, both as a significant historic asset in Burslem, and as a future catalyst for business growth and investment locally.”
Stoke-on-Trent City councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration at the city council, added: “The institute originally functioned as a prestigious centre for education and excellence in the arts, sciences and business, the plans being drawn up would take it back to its roots and make this great building the heart of the community once more.”
The city council, The Prince’s Regeneration Trust (PRT), European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), English Heritage (EH) and Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF) have worked together over the last five years to plan the £854,000 project, which will be delivered as part of the Burslem and Longton Building improvement Scheme THI3, a project managed by council officers.