Conservation Areas @ 50

Conservation areas turn 50 this year - the anniversary of the Civic Amenities Act which first created them in 1967. Now, conservation areas are designated by local authorities under section 69 of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990, which defines them as: 

"areas of special architectural or historic interest the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance".

All year we will be celebrating the work being done in conservation areas from around the West Midlands, starting with Stoke Town.

Stoke Town Conservation Area

Back in October 1972, a small conservation area named St Peter's Churchyard was declared taking in the church, the churchyard, the Town Hall and some shops on Glebe Street. In 2010, the conservation area was expanded to its current size and renamed Stoke Town Conservation Area.

In the mid eighteenth century, the village of Stoke was small and centred on the parish church. By the mid nineteenth century, thanks to the Industrial Revolution, Stoke had expanded with developed road and canal networks. The conservation area is now focused on the historic core of church and civic buildings along with the Spode pottery works. High quality middle class housing in Brook Street, dating from 1838, bank buildings and the Co-operative Building on Liverpool Road are among the buildings that add to the significance of the conservation area.

Visiting the area in 1852, Charles Dickens described Stoke as a 

picturesque heap of houses, kilns, smoke, wharfs, canals and river lying (as was most appropriate) in a basin

The Spode site - which makes up a quarter of the conservation area - comprises a complex of nineteenth century, Grade II listed buildings clustered near the main entrance, with more nineteenth and twentieth century production buildings, warehouses and stores interspersed with later twentieth century portal framed sheds. 

By 2008, all pottery production on the site had ceased and City of Stoke-on-Trent Council acquired the premises. Spode Ware continues to be produced by the Portmeirion Group, at their factory a short distance away.

Conservation area scheme

Historic England is working in partnership with City of Stoke-on-Trent Council to deliver a conservation area scheme that will create a district centre for Stoke that reflects its status as a University town, and recognises its potential as a destination for ceramics factory shopping.

The scheme aims:

  • to create better connections between Stoke Town and the railway station, as well as the University
  • provide better interpretation of Stoke's heritage
  • support craft based industry
  • stimulate creative industries in the area and encourage visitors through the re-use of the Spode site
  • improve the retail and leisure offer within the town
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