Work has started on breathing new life into Stoke town centre.
The imposing Sutherland Chambers, on Church Street which dates back to 1899, will benefit from new, traditional style shop fronts to its three ground-floor units, and the refurbishment of the vacant first and second floor above into residential accommodation.
The investment will also include repairs to external walls, windows, doors and drain pipes, keeping the historic elements where possible.
The work will cost £350,000, with £150,000 coming from the Stoke Town Partnership Scheme in Conservation Areas (PSiCA) – a collaboration between the city council and Historic England working to preserve and enhance conservation areas.
Philip Mellor, managing director at Trentdale Investments, who own the Church Street building, said the company was pleased to be playing a part in the ongoing regeneration of Stoke town centre.
“The first phase will involve the complete restoration of the exterior of the ground floor shops and vacant first and second floor area above. This will restore this outstanding 19th century building to its former glory.
“The second phase will see the conversion of the upper floors to residential accommodation. With all the great work going on at the flourishing Spode Works site across the road, we believe that our project will contribute to making a positive difference to the town.”
Since it was granted by Historic England in 2015, the Stoke town PSiCA has seen almost £600,000 spent on nine restoration and enhancement projects in the town, not including the work to the Sutherland Chambers. The PSiCA scheme has offered grants of up to 60 per cent – split evenly between Historic England and the city council – to eligible property owners, with the remaining 40 per cent to be paid for by the property owner.
Other projects have included:
· A £202,000 project (grant £114k) towards the conservation and repair of 11-17 Liverpool Road, which has since been brought back into use as part of the Spode Museum Trust.
· A £48,000 project (grant £29k) at Stoke Town Hall to restore stonework, clean and repair stained glass windows and roof lights, and remove a 1950s concrete canopy. The building is now promoted as a wedding and ceremony venue.
· A £22,000 project (grant £15k) to repair the historic stone plinths to the Smith Family Grade II-listed tombs at Stoke Minster churchyard.
· An £18,000 project (grant £11k) project to carry out external restoration works to 75-79 Church Street (former Barclays bank building). The upper floors of the building are now being marketed as accommodation, and the ground floor as retail or office.
· A £35,000 project (grant £21k) at 3 Brook Street, to undertake historic work to the front elevation of the building.
Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage at the city council, said: “This has been a fantastic project that shows how we are using our rich heritage to play a key role in regeneration. The scheme has breathed new life into some of the town’s buildings and street scenes, which benefits everyone.
"I’m delighted to see a building like the Sutherland Chambers being restored to its former glory. Not only will the work greatly improve its appearance, it will also make a big contribution to the overall appearance of the area. Having accommodation in the building will bring more residents into the town centre and boost footfall, so it’s good news for local businesses.”
The small Christadelphian Ecclesia in North Staffordshire was formed in 1910 and worshipped originally on the first floor of the building. The building also housed an accountancy firm on the second floor in the mid-1900s.