Backed by the government’s Levelling Up fund, the £60m Goods Yard development is currently under construction next to Stoke-on-Trent’s main train station on a site owned by Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
Work to create the new urban quarter is being carried out by social impact developers Capital&Centric and will accommodate 174 apartments alongside bars, cafes, enterprise and event spaces.
Now researchers from Staffordshire University’s Centre for Business, Innovation and the Regions are getting in on the action in a bid to understand “what works” and how lessons learned from this major urban regeneration project can be applied to future development in the city and further afield.
The research will involve a programme of evaluation which allows stakeholders to reflect on ways of working and review plans and activities as the Goods Yard takes shape. It also aims to capture the views of local residents and other stakeholders through interviews, focus groups and workshops, connecting them with the council and developers.
Professor of Public Policy, Steven Griggs said: “This is a significant development which seeks to create social value in the neighbourhood and across the city and so it’s vital to capture the lessons from this development and how we might work effectively in future to reduce inequalities and open up new opportunities.
“Goods Yard can be considered a ‘litmus test’ of the capacity of government and developers to address regional inequalities and the research is especially relevant given the government’s decision to establish their Office for Place in Stoke-on-Trent.”
Councillor Chris Robinson, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Planning at Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “Goods Yard will be positive for the local economy with the creation of jobs, skills and business opportunity, all of which can be measured, as well as good quality housing. However, this study will explore the wider implications and longer-term impact of the project.
“We welcome the interest and expertise of Staffordshire University in their ongoing evaluation of Goods Yard, sharing the lessons learned which can be applied to projects across the city to ensure we maximise the benefits of investment for the people of Stoke-on-Trent.”
Tom Wilmot, joint managing director at Capital&Centric, said: “Every inch of the neighbourhood has been designed to be one of the region’s standout destinations - an inclusive and vibrant community which local people can enjoy. We build communities that embrace and reflect the identity of the site’s surroundings and Goods Yard is no different. It’s brilliant the university are taking such an interest and we’re really pleased to be working with them on the study.
“There’s already been some fantastic connections fostered with the local community, from the massive street party and charity pop-up cinema hosted in the Signal Box, to our work with local young people via the Regeneration Brainery and upcoming pop-up exhibition showcasing local artists. There’ll be bags more opportunities to get involved as the neighbourhood completes and then cements itself as a destination that provides interesting and diverse opportunities for the community to come together.”
Staffordshire University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Kevin Hetherington said: “The Goods Yard is a significant development on the University’s doorstep and we are excited for its future.
“We’re delighted to be entering into partnership with Stoke-on-Tent City Council and developers Capital&Centric on this research project which is an important part of our civic engagement and confirms our commitment to the regeneration of our city.”