WWRD’s Wedgwood Masterplan to partly rebuild the factory, create a new visitor experience and build over 200 homes on green belt land nearby was approved by the Development Management Committee of Stoke-on-Trent council last month.
WWRD (Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton), which bought Wedgwood out of administration four years ago, claims the Masterplan will safeguard over 400 existing jobs and create more than 100 new ones in years to come.
£20 million of the £34 million redevelopment will come through the three housing estates to be built beside and behind the factory. WWRD will invest £9 million and has secured up to £5.1 million funding from the government’s Regional Growth Fund.
Anthony Jones, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer at Wedgwood, said: “We at Wedgwood are absolutely delighted by the committee’s decision which marks a great day for our company.”
“We are extremely grateful for all the support we received in developing our application and are committed to investing in a successful future on our strong foundations here in The Potteries.”
“Once the planning permission is unconditional we will immediately implement our ambitious investment plans. We expect to break ground later this month and to move in to our new facilities by January 2015. By Easter 2015 our new Wedgwood visitor experience will be fully open and will result in significantly increased visitor numbers both to Wedgwood and to the region as a whole.”
But while welcoming the Masterplan as a lynchpin of Stoke’s economic growth, local Councillor Neil Day voiced concerns about increased traffic flows. “These 209 family homes will generate about 1200 additional traffic movements per year, on top of the 200 additional journeys by the increased workforce,” he calculated.
The site has only three narrow access roads, one of which is closed to service vehicles, so this will mean far greater traffic flows through Barlaston, he anticipated. Although the ‘Natwest’ Junction of Barlaston Old Road and Longton Road would reportedly be upgraded, he would continue to monitor the traffic situation, Cllr Day insisted.
“The best option would be for the company to ultimately rebuild the Wedgwood canal bridge, perhaps in conjunction with the planned Wedgwood marina,” he considered. The marina would be the subject of a separate planning application to Stafford Borough Council.