Stone Life

County council agrees to sell former Fire Station to Joule’s Brewery

Staffordshire County Council have today confirmed that they have accepted a bid from Joule’s Brewery to buy Stone’s old fire station building.

The former fire station is adjacent to Crown Wharf, a site which is already owned by Joule’s who have submitted development plans to the council to build a brewery tap house and studio theatre.

As we reported in April, the County Council put the fire station up for sale and was inviting bids on the property.

Steve Nuttall, Director for Joule’s brewery, said:

“We are delighted to have a deal agreed.  This will be an important part of the new Joules tap house and theatre which we have proposed to build on Crown Wharf.  We will landscape this bounding within the whole development to act as a gateway to the canal from the town centre.

Our agreement with the Town Council is then to provide the building for use as a heritage centre which we will sponsor by way of a subsidy, charging just £1 per year.  The building is charismatic, and historically  interesting and it will form a part of the suite of buildings that will make up the new Joules footprint in Stone if planning is granted.

It’s very special that this is also a part of the original Joules footprint, opposite the crown and anchor yard, once the old Joule’s cooperage, adjacent to the Joules warehouse and bordering the original brewery site.”

Rob Kenney, Stone Town Councillor and member of the Crown Wharf Steering group, added:

“This is wonderful news, Joule’s have committed to offering the fire station the town for just £1 year.

We can now work up the plans to refurbish the building and look at how we will operate it.  I think it will be a tremendous addition to the town and to the exciting Crown wharf development.

The council is not obligated to lease the building, so we will consult in the coming months and check this is something that the town supports.

We just now have to hope that planning for crown wharf is approved.  The application is still with the planners who have expressed some reservations about the scheme.”


More information about the planned Heritage and Visitor Centre

Joule’s Involvement

Joule’s Brewery have agreed heads of terms with Stone Town Council to sponsor the establishment of a heritage centre within the old fire station building.  The proposed terms are attached to this document.

The brewery is keen to support a long-term initiative that will promote the story of Stone, of which Joule’s is a significant part.  The brewery wishes to contribute to the community and facilitate a worthwhile project that will play a role in assisting with the cultural identity of the town for visitors and local people.

The support to this project is driven firstly by a desire to mark the return of the brewery to Stone.  Secondly the brewery wishes to promote the Crown Wharf site as an arts and leisure orientated location and to recognise the wharfs relevance to the original brewery, sitting adjacent to the listed original brewery stores.  Thirdly the fire station is an important gateway to the whole Crown Wharf development.

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 held and earmarked for this project.

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.

It is planned that the centre will be run by a Stone Town Council and involve community groups from a cross-section of the town’s population.

Operation

The heritage centre will be provided to the Town Council at a peppercorn rent of £1 per year.  The Town Council will hence only need to fund the centre’s running costs.

It is intended that 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 five 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

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 lecture or by a 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.

Membership

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.

The Building

The fire station is currently an abandoned and derelict building that forms an eyesore in the town centre.  The location is in front of the Crown Wharf, with the development being canal side, behind this frontage.  This building is therefore a detraction from the quality of the scheme proposed.  As it stands it reduces the impact on what could be a transformational project for the town.

The building is itself interesting and has historical use, so will form an ideal location for the heritage centre.  It is also high profile and can act as a signpost for Crown Wharf.

The site will also form a part of pedestrian access that will allow easy access to Crown Wharf, via the existing road and via foot.

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;
Tourism

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;
Environment
  • Ensure new development protects and enhances the significance of Stone’s many heritage assets;
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