Thursday, 10 January 2013

URBED Masterplan for Stoke Town Centre

In 2011 URBED publically consulted on a Masterplan for Stoke Town Centre  it was released in Oct '11 (just 15 months ago!!) at a cost of £160,00 and which on page 21 states - 

"The proposed vision for Stoke Town is therefore as a city centre quarter including the University, College, Station and administrative hub. The Town Centre and the former Spode Works will become the heart of this quarter and a focus for its activity. This activity does not need to be created, it already exists......"

In the UK we have become used to large conurbations with very small and compact city centres. This however would not be the case on the continent where the city centre is far larger and includes a series of quarters each mixing housing and employment with city centre functions such as a University Quarter, Administrative Quarter and Station Quarter.

Stoke is unusual in the UK being a polycentric conurbation that historically did not have a clear city centre. The Council has been right to promote Hanley as a city centre because there is a need for a clear focus for higher order retailing and cultural activities. However, given the unique structure there is no reason to assume that this means that Stoke must adopt the UK model of a compact centre in a big conurbation. Why not adopt a continental model that sees a large city centre with a series of quarters, and indeed a wider conurbation made up of a network of urban villages? The model for this in the UK is, of course, London which while being on a vast scale has successfully developed a polycentric village structure.

This suggests a vision for Stoke Town as a city centre quarter. This is already hinted at in the University’s vision for a ‘University Quarter’. It could also incorporate elements of an administrative quarter or indeed a station quarter like the area around the Eurostar terminal in Lille. This is compatible with the strategy for the City Centre that emphasises the importance of the University Boulevard in linking the station to the city centre. The small addition to this strategy that we are suggesting is that the access be continued for another few hundred meters so that the former Spode Works site and Stoke Town Centre is also perceived as a functional city centre quarter.

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