Work starts to bring town centre building back to life in council-delivered scheme

Work has started on restoring a historic building back to its former glory – the latest project to benefit from a £900,000 scheme being delivered by Stoke-on-Trent City Council to breathe new life into Stoke town centre.

The imposing Sutherland Chambers, 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.

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.

Conservative Cllr 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.

“The Stoke PSiCA scheme compliments the regeneration work the council is leading on at Spode, where we’ve invested more than £3m to give the iconic site a new purpose. The council is working closely with the private sector to drive regeneration at Spode and in Stoke town, and we’re now seeing really positive results on the back of this approach.

“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.”

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