'City Sentral' Stoke shopping centre spelling prompts row

City Sentral logo designed by Underscore Deputy head teacher Mark Rayner said adopting text speak for official signs, street furniture and public names was unhelpful for English language speakers

The unconventional spelling of a renamed Stoke-on-Trent shopping centre will make visitors think nobody in the town can spell, worried locals say.

The East West Centre is being renamed City Sentral as part of a £350m revamp.

The companies behind the name said the new branding reflected both the city's name and the site's location, and gave the project "stand out quality."

But callers to BBC Radio Stoke said the name was "ludicrous" and "a bit boring" and that Sentral was "not a word".

'Fighting a battle'

Start Quote

It makes us look like the people in Stoke are thick. Sentral is not a word. You'd think they'd get the spelling right”

End Quote A selection of residents' quotes about the new branding

The city centre bus station is being re-developed as part of a scheme comprising a department store, more than 70 shops, cafes and restaurants, a multi-screen cinema, an 80-bedroom hotel and parking for 1,000 cars, due for completion by 2015.

Developer Realis Estates said City Sentral branding would appear shortly on hoardings around the bus station and inside the East West Centre. It said it hoped the new name would grow on people.

The name was proposed by Underscore creative branding agency, which said: "The use of the 'S' in 'Sentral' reflects the very nature of the scheme, Stoke-on-Trent as central, while also giving it stand out quality."

It said the arrows in the logo reflected the new direction for Stoke-on-Trent, bringing the surrounding towns together and focusing on a single city centre.

But Mark Rayner, deputy head of St Joseph's College in Trent Vale, said: "The spelling is not particularly helpful.

Computer generated image of City Sentral shopping area-image supplied by Halogen UK property PR agency Regeneration consultant Mike Wolfe said a retail centre's success relied on its look, not its name

"I can understand why there's concern about this.

"In terms of grammar we are fighting a battle on many fronts, from text speak, on the internet, even in emails now you find shortened words are creeping in.

"Pupils regularly write C for see and U for you. But one hopes schools can still teach the correct spelling and grammar."

Mike Wolfe, a regeneration consultant and Stoke-on-Trent's former elected mayor, said the name was neither clever nor memorable.

He said: "City Sentral doesn't identify the centre with Stoke.

"But a name in itself has marginal value, what matters is what the shopping centre looks like."

'Raises eyebrows'

Start Quote

We wanted to announce to the world that Stoke is a city up there with the likes of Manchester and Birmingham”

End Quote Neil Stanhope Underscore branding agency

BBC Radio Stoke spoke to a number of people unhappy with the name, including one who said: "It makes us look like the people in Stoke are thick."

Another resident said "Sentral is not a word" and another person said "You'd think they'd get the spelling right."

But Underscore's managing director Neil Stanhope said: "I used to live in Stoke-on-Trent, as did a number of members of our digital team, and we would not do that to the people of Stoke.

"We wanted to link into the heritage of the city and were bandying names around linked to the local newspaper the Sentinel.

"We wanted to announce to the world that Stoke is a city up there with the likes of Manchester and Birmingham.

"We also wanted to create a brand that was unique and that would provoke a reaction. If it raises eyebrows, well all brands provoke a reaction."

City councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, said City Sentral would be a "welcome addition" to the city, while her fellow councillor Mark Meredith said the name was distinctive and people would get used to the unfamiliar spelling.

And Sue Prince from Destination Staffordshire tourism board said: "I don't have a problem with it being with an 'S'.

"It makes you look twice and I think it's really exciting from a design point of view. People don't have a problem with Vodafone being spelt without a 'ph'. Nobody thinks they are stupid."

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