Major multi-million pound plans for a city centre office block have been submitted – despite the looming recession.
Genr8 has lodged a reserved matters planning application for the proposed five-storey building, as the latest phase of Hanley’s Smithfield development.
The proposed 3 Smithfield building, set to be built between the forthcoming Hilton Garden Inn hotel and the Clayworks apartment complex, would provide 62,000sqft of Grade A office space, along with a ground floor commercial unit.
Developer Genr8, which is working with Stoke-on-Trent City Council on the Smithfield scheme, had previously secured outline planning permission for the office block, along with a larger 86,000sqft building, in 2017.
Most of 3 Smithfield is set to be leased to an as-yet-unnamed ‘multi-national blue-chip organisation’.
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And while the country is bracing itself for a major economic downturn as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, council chiefs do not believe this will affect demand for new office space on Smithfield and they are confident the scheme will still go ahead.
A report on the 3 Smithfield project – which will presumably include its cost and other financial details – is expected to come before cabinet next month.
If planning permission is granted, Genr8 says that work on the building will start later this year, with completion expected in 2022.
The company is also due to submit plans for a 730-space multi-storey car park, to be built on the existing car park on the other side of Potteries Way.
Richard Ingham, partner at Manchester-based Genr8, said: “Stoke-on-Trent’s national profile as a destination for business is, rightfully, increasing: The Powerhouse 2020 has recently announced Stoke-on-Trent as having the fastest jobs growth in the UK, and so the need for high-quality, contemporary office space is more urgent than ever. Genr8 is proud to be able to deliver this for the city in partnership with Stoke-on-Trent City Council.
“It’s important that we respond to the needs of the local community with Smithfield, and create a space that is relevant and engaging.
“We also need to provide the right infrastructure to support both Smithfield and the wider city centre’s continued growth. We feel that our plans for the next phase will help us achieve just that, and the team is excited about continuing to deliver on our ambitious vision for Smithfield.”
According to the planning application, 3 Smithfield will be clad in blue and green terracotta tiles, as a celebration of Stoke-on-Trent’s pottery industry.
The building will include a communal roof terrace and a cycle storage area in the basement.
City council leader Abi Brown said the authority had been in contact with the proposed occupier of 3 Smithfield, and there was no suggestion that the Covid-19 crisis had affected demand for the building.
She said: “There will be firms that will be looking to reduce their costs by moving to places such as Stoke-on-Trent, which can offer a good standard of living along with our forthcoming full fibre network.”
Work on the Clayworks flats and Hilton Garden Inn has been hit by the pandemic and lockdown, with the expected completion dates for both projects now pushed back to the autumn.
But Mrs Brown believes the new plans demonstrate the private sector’s confidence in Stoke-on-Trent.
She added: “Smithfield is a game-changing development in the city centre. While subject to planning permission, it is extremely exciting to see these plans come forward.
“This year we are going to see the really exciting additions of the Clayworks apartments and Hilton Garden Inn hotel at Smithfield, two landmark developments for the future of Stoke-on-Trent which will help to transform the city for generations to come.
“There is real confidence in Stoke-on-Trent from developers and businesses.
“Our work to make this city a great place to invest is working, and businesses and others know that Stoke-on-Trent is a great place to locate.
“These are landmark schemes which are creating a new direction and future for Stoke-on-Trent, and seeing millions of pounds invested to drive and accelerate regeneration. At the same time, they bring increased footfall into the city.”