Presented by Stone Town Council & Joules Brewery Limited working with the Crown Wharf Steering Group.
PLANNING PERMISSION SOUGHT FOR STONE HERITAGE CENTRE
The Steering Group
The steering group consists of representatives from Stone Town Council, Staffordshire County Council, The Stone Revellers theatre group, the Canals and Rivers Trust, Canal Cruising Ltd. and Joule’s Brewery. The steering group was initiated by Stone Town Council with the following objectives:
To improve the accessibility of the canal and relevance to the town. Crown Wharf is the most available and accessible link to the canal which has the potential to fulfil many of the objectives laid out in the town plan.
To promote and ensure a project that will enable the community to use, and access, Crown Wharf, promoting leisure uses benefitting all parts of the community.
The group has been working on a project over the last year to provide a mixed-use scheme that will combine commercial leisure use alongside some community projects.
HERITAGE AND VISITOR CENTRE
Stone Town Council
In 2009, Stone Town Council raised £100,000 for a community project that would save and enhance the Crown Wharf site for the town. That money is still being held and, subject to formal approval of the project by the Council later this year, will be used to contribute towards the capital cost of the proposed project at Crown Wharf.
This opportunity offers the Town Council an exciting prospect to preserve and enhance this key gateway to the town. Its proposals are to create a heritage centre that can engage with the 30,000 visitors to the town from the popular canal route, in addition to the many other destination visitors to the town. The facility will principally be a heritage centre and bring to life the story of Stone as well as providing visitor information, promoting the town facilities and businesses, as well as the possibility of providing a community orientated coffee and meeting facility.
If approved, it is planned that the centre will be run by Stone Town Council and involve community groups from a cross-section of the town’s population.
The steering group, led by Joule’s Brewery has today lodged a planning application which, if successful, will then allow the project to move to the next stage.
If passed, Joule’s Brewery will create the shell for the centre and create a café space which will sit to the rear of the fire station and provide a café for visitors, refreshments for evening or private events, and a space for workshops for school visits. The Council will, if approved, meet the capital costs of this work and the creation of the heritage centre within the building.
Rob Kenney Stone Town councillor, member of the steering group and Crown Wharf theatre trustee comments:
With Crown Wharf now underway we are delighted that the plans for the heritage centre are now ready. I would hope and expect, they will as warmly received by the planners as they have been by the people of Stone. This is a tremendously exciting period for Stone, with many town centres struggling the contrast is remarkable, Stone is very much on the move. If the plans are passed and the final scheme approved by the Council, Joule’s will then develop the building for our exclusive use we hope by 2020, or very early in 2021.
Mark Alford, Senior Planner, will be dealing with the application. Mark dealt with the main Crown Wharf planning application which was approved in January this year.
The heritage centre would be provided to the Town Council at a peppercorn rent of £1 per year. Once the Town Council has met the capital costs for the conversion of the building to a Heritage Centre, it will therefore only need to fund the centre’s day to day running costs.
It is intended that the entrance to the centre will be free. It is planned to be open for not less than 6 hours per day, and for not less than 5 days per week. It will be staffed and operated by Stone Town Council with the support of local volunteers.
The centre will target three primary audiences – Tourists and visitors, local people and schools.
Visitors to the town, particularly those that arrive via the canal, will be signposted to the centre. They will there be able to learn about the town and its history and will be encouraged to visit the High Street and other parts of the town as part of their visit. This should increase the vibrancy and viability of the whole area.
Local people will be catered for both by the nature of the exhibitions (see below) and the organisation of events relevant to the town. This will include the provision of a room which could be used by groups for meetings, lectures etc..
Schools from the surrounding areas will be encouraged to use the facility to learn about local history. The meeting room will also provide a classroom-like facility to allow schools to maximise their benefit from the centre.
Exhibitions & Events
It is planned that the centre will house several permanent exhibitions that will be of primary interest to visitors to Stone, as well as proving useful local information. The permanent exhibitions will be complemented by rotating content to sustain local interest. The rotating contact will tie in with local and national events. In addition, these exhibitions will be tailored to attract schools as the centre aims to stimulate an interest in local history. The rotating program will offer an opportunity to create events where guest speakers may be able to anchor some modest events, either by way of a lecture or by less formal Q&A sessions.
Café & Meeting Facilities.
It is intended to provide a simple but high-quality café offer to encourage a social dynamic for the centre. Meeting facilities will provide a hub for groups to meet and classroom-style facilities for educational users.
It is anticipated that the centre will attract a membership base and become affiliated to existing history groups and other like-minded groups, providing a place to meet. socialise and to engage in interesting projects, listen to invited speakers and lectures across a wide range of diverse cultural interests.
PLAN FOR STAFFORD BOROUGH
The proposals for this site are fully in harmony with the current adopted Plan for Stafford Borough. In particular:
Stone Town Centre
- Encouraging the development and expansion of the town centre to provide a vibrant place where people can meet, shop, eat and spend leisure time in a safe and pleasant environment; (NOTE: Crown Wharf is the only possible expansion area for Stone town centre)
- Improving and strengthening both the range and diversity of educational, health, cultural and community services and facilities in the town;
Promote Stone as a tourist destination with its unique architectural character and heritage by:
- Conserving and enhancing the character of Stone town centre, its historic buildings, street patterns and rich heritage;
- Supporting canal-based regeneration initiatives in Stone town centre that enhance the context and character of the canal as a focal point and tourist attraction;
- Ensure new development protects and enhances the significance of Stone’s many heritage assets;