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Planning Application Approved for Change of Use of former Aynsley Works to various commercial and leisure uses in Longton, Stoke on Trent.

CHANGE OF USE APPLICATION

LONGTON, STOKE ON TRENT

Aynsley Mill, Longton, Stoke on Trent.

Retrospective Planning Application for Assorted Commercial Uses.

En-Plan: Planning & Architecture are now acting as the Planning & Architectural Consultants for former Aynsley Mill Works in Longton, Stoke on Trent as they were under Enforcement Action as the Change of Use of the building to the new commercial uses had not received planning permission at any point. 

The overall site previously formed part of a wider complex of large buildings and kilns in use for the manufacture of pottery. This site is known as Portland Works and was previously occupied by Aynsley China. Part of this building is Grade II Listed and the whole site lies within the Longton Conservation Area but is located just outside Longton Town Centre.

Longton is a town located in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England. It has a rich history dating back several centuries. The area where Longton now stands was predominantly rural until the 18th century. It was part of the manor of Trentham, which belonged to the Bishops of Lichfield. Agriculture and pottery were the main industries in the region during this time.T

 

Like the other towns in Stoke-on-Trent, Longton is known for its pottery production. The town was home to numerous potbanks (pottery factories) and was central to the ceramics industry that the region is famous for.

Due to its rich industrial past, Longton has several listed buildings and sites of historical interest. The Gladstone Pottery Museum is a prominent attraction, offering visitors an insight into the history of the pottery industry and the processes involved in its production. The museum is housed in a former potbank and showcases workshops, kilns, and exhibitions. Post the decline of the pottery industry, Longton, like other areas in Stoke-on-Trent, faced economic challenges. There have been efforts at regeneration and diversification, with the service sector becoming more prominent in recent years. Longton is well connected by road, with the A50 running nearby, providing links to other parts of Stoke-on-Trent and beyond. The town also has a railway station, Longton Railway Station, connecting it to other towns in the region. Longton is home to the Queen's Park, a Victorian park with a lake, bowling greens, tennis courts, and other amenities. The park is a focal point for the community and hosts events and activities throughout the year. Longton hosts various local events, including markets, fairs, and festivals, celebrating its history and community spirit.

 

The Industrial Revolution brought significant changes to Longton. In the late 18th century, the area witnessed the growth of the pottery industry, with various potteries and ceramic manufacturers being established. The availability of local clay and coal resources contributed to the development of the pottery industry in the region. Longton continued to prosper throughout the 19th century as the pottery industry thrived. The town became a major center for ceramic production, specializing in the production of bone china. Numerous potteries, kilns, and associated industries were established, employing a large portion of the local population.T he growth of the pottery industry led to a rapid increase in population, and Longton expanded both in terms of residential areas and industrial sites. Workers' housing, factories, and warehouses were built to accommodate the growing industry and population.  In 1865, Longton became an independent municipal borough. It had its own local government and administrative structures, separate from Stoke-on-Trent, Hanley, and other neighboring towns.Like other pottery towns in the region, Longton experienced a decline in the pottery industry during the late 20th century due to changing economic conditions and foreign competition. Many potteries closed down, leading to a period of economic decline. In recent years, efforts have been made to regenerate and revitalize the town, with initiatives to attract new businesses and investment.

 

Today, Longton retains its historical ties to the pottery industry, with remnants of the town's industrial past still visible. It is also home to various heritage sites, including former pottery factories and kilns, which serve as reminders of its ceramic heritage. The town continues to evolve and adapt to changing economic circumstances while preserving its historical identity.

The site if the former home of the maufacture of Aynsley China.  Aynsley China is a brand of fine bone china tableware, teaware, and commemorative items that originated in England. The company was established by John Aynsley in 1775, and it became one of the most prestigious and renowned producers of fine china in the UK.  John Aynsley founded the company in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, an area famously known as "The Potteries" due to its rich pottery heritage. Aynsley China is known for its high-quality products and intricate, detailed designs. Over the years, they've produced a variety of patterns ranging from simple, elegant designs to intricate floral patterns and even specially commissioned pieces. Aynsley China has a longstanding connection with the British royal family. They have produced commemorative pieces for various royal events, including coronations and weddings. The brand has held several royal warrants over the years. While Aynsley China has undergone several changes in ownership and has faced the challenges of a changing market, the brand's legacy as a producer of fine bone china remains intact. Those interested in Aynsley China's history can visit the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent. The museum houses an extensive ceramics collection, including pieces from Aynsley and other notable Stoke-on-Trent potteries. As with many traditional manufacturers in the UK, Aynsley faced financial challenges in the latter part of the 20th century and early 21st century. The brand, however, remains a symbol of quality and British craftsmanship in the world of fine china. If you're considering purchasing Aynsley China, collecting it, or learning more about specific patterns and their history, I would recommend checking specialist dealers or auction houses.

The site is located outside of a town or local centre, is a designated Grade II listed building and lies within the Longton Conservation Area. The application aims to delivery a range of uses from within the large former pottery factory complex. The units which are to be in a B2 or B8 use are considered to be appropriate considering the history and location of the site. However, a couple of the uses operating within the former factory building are sport/recreation uses (health and fitness centres) which the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) makes clear are categorised as main town centre uses. The site lies a minimum of approximately 80 metres from Longton Town Centre and therefore could be considered to be "edge of centre".


The NPPF states that planning decisions should support the role of town centres and take a positive approach to their growth, management and adaptation. It also advises that local planning authorities should apply a sequential test approach for main town centre uses that are not in an existing centre and that edge of centre locations should only be considered if suitable sites are not available within the centre. When considering out-of-centre proposals, preference should be given to accessible sites that are well connected to the town centre (paragraph 86). The Retail and Leisure Study (2019) identified that at the time of their survey there were 53
vacant units (18.5%) within Longton Town Centre which is higher than the national average and a slight increase since the last survey was carried out in 2013.

 

The applicant has provided a sequential assessment and has highlighted that the key considerations for the fitness businesses operating within units 7 & 8 are the competitive pricing of the rent, ability to expand, proximity to local transport hubs and local services, suitability of the existing floor layout, existing toilet/shower facilities, inter-linkage with complimentary uses, the location on the periphery of a town centre and parking provision. They have also carried out a search of available properties within Longton Town Centre but have discounted them all on the basis that they are not the correct size, layout and condition to accommodate the businesses and would be too expensive to convert. The sequential assessment concludes that the use of these premises would not impinge on the vitality and viability of the town centre but will actually compliment the town centre providing leisure facilities for the people of Longton and support the
regeneration of the town.

 

The two leisure uses operating within this building are used generally for fitness purposes and are within Unit 7 which occupies a floor space overall of approx 964m² and Unit 8 which occupies a floor space of approx 856m². The open floor plan, with some rooms having high ceilings, of this former factory building are ideally suited for fitness uses including exercise classes etc. The site is located in an 'edge of centre' location and has good access and connectivity to the town centre. Whilst there are concerns over the lack of any use within the remainder of the wider former factory site, which as part of this application will result in those areas having a NIL planning use, the benefits of bringing a large proportion of this building, which is a designated heritage asset, back into a viable use and thus hopefully securing and safeguard the long term future of this site
is considered to outweigh those concerns.

 

Taking into account all of these factors officers are satisfied that the applicants have satisfied the requirements of this key framework test and that, in this instance, the scheme would represent
sustainable development .

The NPPF recognises that heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource that should be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance and advises that putting heritage assets to viable uses which are consistent with their conservation is desirable (paragraph 192). Strategic Aim 14 and policy CSP2 of the Core Spatial Strategy (CSS) aims to protect, preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the historic heritage by ensuring that new development is appropriate in terms of scale, location and their context.


The use of this site was previously as a large scale pottery factory and as such the sub division of this building into smaller business units, operating a variety of commercial uses, is not considered to be inappropriate in terms of the impact on heritage. Furthermore, the continued use of this property is welcomed in terms of protecting the building from further dilapidation and therefore securing the retention of the heritage asset in the long term.


Some areas of the building have undergone a number of minor internal works to assist with the change of use which have not had the benefit of listed building consent. However, these works do not fall to be considered as part of this planning application, which is for a 'change of use' only, and will be investigated and enforced upon were necessary separately through the enforcement process.

The NPPF states that new development should function well and add to the overall quality of the area, not just for the short term but over the lifetime of the development (paragraph 127). CSP1 of the CSS states that new development should respect the character and identity of the built and historic environment and be accessible to all users, safe, uncluttered, varied and attractive. Policy CSP1 advises that new development should preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the historic environment.


The proposals do not include for any external physical alterations to the appearance of the property. However, the uses include for a variety of general industrial B2 and storage B8 uses which could lead to a potential for the large open yard areas to be used to store goods, equipment, materials or for damaged cars and car body parts to be stored/stacked outside. The open yard areas and frontage of this site is highly visible in the locality, which also lies within a designated conservation area, and as such any such open storage would likely have an adverse impact on visual amenity. A condition is therefore recommended to restrict such open storage.

The proposals are considered to be acceptable in terms of the impact on the vitality and viability of the nearby town centre, heritage, amenity and highway safety. The application is therefore recommended for approval subject to conditions.

The Major Planning Application submitted by En-Plan has now received full planning approval thereby quashing the Enforcement Notice served on the owners which was causing the businesses located on site anxiety over their future on the site.  The grating of approval gives everyone involved the certainty to move forward and continue the with the development of this site.

En-Plan will continue to work with the owners in discharging planning conditions attached to the approval and provide technical advice in terms of building regulations  and future proofing the site for the change to electrical vehicles in the future.

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