Think of Stoke-on-Trent and you will no doubt recall the potteries, and world-leading ceramics.
Success in ceramics has been mirrored in our approach in developing one of the fastest-growing enterprise zones in the country.
The Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone was launched in 2016, and in that time has secured nearly 2,000 jobs, developed more than 500,000 square feet of commercial development space, seen the first speculative development happening in the city for years, brought back into use 89 hectares of brownfield sites (some of which had been derelict for up to 40 years), and attracted £82 million of public investment and £83 million of private investment.
We’re not only crafting the clay under the ground into ceramics, we’re turning rubble and derelict land into thriving employment and attractive investment opportunities.
“We are no longer a hidden city, but now playing with bigger cities to secure national investment
Our vision for developing Ceramic Valley was to link a ribbon of six sites, spreading 140 hectares alongside key road and rail infrastructure links – realising the full potential of North Staffordshire’s fantastic logistical location in the heart of the country, and recognising our strengths and using them for future growth.
This vision has meant we have a great story to tell of a real place and its history. Its prominent location and really visible signs of construction, development and growth reflect the resurgence and optimism in Stoke-on-Trent. We are no longer a hidden city, but now playing with bigger cities to secure national investment, and are regarded as one to watch.
We’re a city that is making heritage cool and creativity sexy, putting edu-clay-tion back on the agenda and maximising our grade A strategic location.
One of the most pleasing aspects of Ceramic Valley is that its successes are being felt across the whole city, in towns and communities. A wonderful example of this can be seen in national manufacturer Tile Mountain, owned by a local entrepreneur who, as a schoolboy, took shortcuts across mounds of waste ceramics on derelict land on his way to class.
Now that same land has been brought back to life as a key location in the enterprise zone, the land remediated, units built and, in this case, occupied by Tile Mountain, giving the business the opportunity to grow in significant, new, purpose-built premises, keeping production in the city and safeguarding local jobs.
By demonstrating ambitious leadership and real delivery, we have turned Ceramic Valley into jobs and businesses, employing local people and raising aspirations among young people.
This leadership has brought key partners together. Ceramic Valley is recognised as the flagship project of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and the sites have a mix of landowners, developers and local authority partners.
Occupation of the sites is more than 73 per cent, and a pipeline of serious interest is spurring further planned developments and major infrastructure programmes to strengthen links with the A500 corridor that will open up access to further development land.
The enterprise zone has consistently contributed to the region’s continued economic growth, bringing in high-value added sectors and raising productivity. New hotels are appearing, including a four-star Hilton Garden Inn in the city centre; visitor numbers have increased by six figures; and employment growth is the fourth fastest in the country.
The story of the enterprise zone is the modern story of Stoke-on-Trent, and we’re excited about its future.