‘Topping out’ celebrates city centre buildings boost.

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Phase one of Stoke-on-Trent’s new Smithfield development celebrated a key milestone today with the “topping out” of the two buildings at the heart of the project.

In a nod to traditional topping out ceremonies, a branch from a yew tree was placed in to the concrete to bestow the building with good luck and ward off evil spirits. The yew tree will eventually be planted as part of the development’s green space.

The two five-storey buildings are part of the first phase of the Smithfield development, which will see the creation of a Central Business District in the city centre featuring 1,250,000 square feet of offices, shops and leisure space. The project, however, is not just about the physical regeneration of the area but about local employment and the development of skills.

Genr8 Developments, the regeneration specialist appointed by Stoke-on-Trent City Council to deliver the new CBD for the city centre, worked with the city council in selecting Laing O’Rourke Construction Ltd. All three have a strong commitment to working with and developing local businesses, creating more jobs and providing training opportunities in the local area.

“We are proud of what we have achieved so far on the new Smithfield development,” said Andy Hurst, Laing O’Rourke’s project leader. “Not only are we building offices and shops that will help revitalise the city centre, but we are helping to create employment and build skills for the workforce of the future.

“This project has given us the chance to work with Stoke Studio College, which specialises in training and qualifications for technical and professional careers in construction and engineering, as well as enabling us to provide apprenticeships and jobs for Stoke-on-Trent residents.”

In addition to the jobs and apprenticeships, nearly half of the suppliers and subcontractors on the project are from the Stoke-on-Trent area.

Mike Smith, partner at Genr8 Developments, said: “It’s fantastic to see the vision for Smithfield coming to fruition.

“Smithfield is an ambitious project which will play a huge part in the regeneration of Stoke-on-Trent. These two buildings represent the high quality standards that the development will continue to deliver over the coming years providing a massive boost to the economic regeneration of the area.

“We look forward to seeing them in occupation over the coming months and to announcing further phases of development in the near future.”

Councillor Ruth Rosenau, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for regeneration, helped to lay the final pour of concrete to the roof, as No1 and No2 Smithfield reached their full height.

She said: “This is a major milestone in the construction of a very significant development that will breathe new life into our city centre and act as the catalyst for the wider regeneration of Stoke-on-Trent.

“Smithfield shows the world we are open for business. It is a visible sign of the scale of our ambition as we create the right conditions to make this area one of the best places to bring business and investment.

“The council’s move to new, energy-efficient premises will allow us to streamline our operations and embrace a new system of agile working, which has been proven to increase productivity and wellbeing of workers in many different organisations and councils. And by housing the new library and customer hub in one of the buildings, we are putting services which we know are important to people under one roof.”

Phase one of the Smithfield development is due for completion in Spring 2015.