The construction site for the new £21.6m retirement living village on the site of the former Westcliffe Hospital Site in Chell, Stoke-on-Trent, opened its gates to the public on Friday 6 and Saturday 7 March.
The event is part of the national UK Construction Group (UKCG) Open Doors weekend, which gives young people, their parents, and the local community a chance to visit major construction sites.
The contractors, Seddon, invited the public to see behind the scenes during the construction of part of Stoke-on-Trent’s new extra-care programme, which is the largest of its kind in the area.
Friday 6 March was an education day. Local schools and colleges were invited to bring local children to visit the site and view the development work. As well as having a guided tour, the groups received an insight into the recruitment process for apprentices. The students also had the chance to meet people who work in the industry, who answered any questions.
On Saturday 7th March, the site was open to the general public, and anyone interested in finding out about the construction industry could take a tour of the site.
The City Council development is being delivered in partnership with the Sapphire consortium, which is a partnership between Your Housing Group, Eric Wright Group and Kajima Partnerships Limited, with Eric Wright Group constructing 250 apartments at the two other Sapphire sites in Stoke, Abbey Hulton and Blurton.
Mike Whittington, Contracts Manager at Seddon, said: "We were delighted to have pupils from local schools taking a very keen interest about how we build our schemes, and talking to one of our apprentices about careers in construction.
"Opening our doors and getting young people on site to understand the work we do will be vital in attracting the next generation of workers into our industry.”
Richard Turpin, Director of Sapphire said: "The open days are an opportunity to show local people what we’re doing. This scheme is already having a very positive impact on the local community, with 65 per cent of materials coming from the City and 80 per cent of the people who work on site coming from the city region. The development is creating 20 new apprenticeships for young people with one teenager already hired as a bricklayer. We hope that welcoming people onto site has inspired more to take up a trade.”
Your Housing Group, one of the UK’s largest housing associations, will manage the 390 apartments once they are completed, adding to their substantial portfolio of apartments for the over 55s across the North West and the Midlands.
Stephen Haigh, Executive Director of Growth at Your Housing Group, said: "This was a great opportunity to don hard hats and high vis jackets and come and see what a construction site is really like. We have two other major extra care schemes also in development at Abbey Hulton and Blurton and together we are creating 390 apartments for people 55 years and over. We want local people to be part of this initiative which is having a significant impact on the local economy. ”
The 140 apartment development, which will be a mix of one-bed and two-bed self-contained apartments, will also contain communal lounges, a restaurant, a laundrette, a landscaped garden and a hair and beauty salon.