Prince's Regeneration Trust to restore Wedgwood Institute

Prince Charles at Wedgwood Institute Prince Charles saw plans for the Wedgwood Institute on his visit

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A plan to restore a historical former ceramics school in Staffordshire has been unveiled by the Prince's Regeneration Trust.

The trust said it was putting together a business plan to renovate the Wedgwood Institute in Burslem, with its owners Stoke-on-Trent City Council.

Prince Charles visited the Grade II-listed building earlier.

It has stood empty since 2008 after it was closed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council because of structural problems.

The trust said it would not be directly investing money but hoped to secure grant funding for improvement works.

Rosie Fraser, trust operations director, said the project was "in the early stages".

"We're looking at how much it is going to cost to repair it and how viable it is," she said.

"If it is viable and key partners can work together to save the building, we can then think about securing the capital investment and getting funding.

"It is a wonderful iconic building and we need to find a future for it."

Business opportunities

Ms Fraser said the trust was planning to create units for new small businesses within the building.

The Wedgwood Institute has been closed for too many years. It is in a bit of state but is key to Burslem's regeneration.

The big question is how much money needs to be spent and how much restoration needs to be done by the trust to make the building useable again.

We still have the wonderful façade which is in pristine condition but the two extensions at the back need desperate attention and they may have to go.

The city is built on industrial heritage but now the industry part is gone, we need to look for a new use for buildings like this one because they're too good to lose.

In June 2011, it announced plans to invest £7.5m in regenerating the Middleport pottery factory where it is putting in workshops, community and education spaces, a cafe, gallery and a visitor centre.

As part of his visit to North Staffordshire, Prince Charles saw how building work was progressing.

He also went to the Co-operative Academy in Tunstall and Swan Bank Methodist Church in Burslem.

The Wedgwood Institute in Queen Street was built in 1869 as a library and school for ceramics, arts and sciences.

It was named after the founder of the pottery company, Josiah Wedgwood, and a statue of him is fixed above the main entrance.

The building was listed as one of the 10 most endangered buildings in England and Wales by the Victorian Society in 2010.

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