Wanting to have the animal feed mill relocated from the centre of Stoke Ferry is only part of the story. Over the coming months we will be asking for input from Stoke Ferry villagers, what they would like to see (and not see) in the village. Our plan is to create some 3D visualisations which will make it easier to see what our village centre could look like. The Stoke Ferry Restored Campaign believes that the redevelopment should benefit all villagers young and old; in education, working and retired; able and less able. The redevelopment should be a combination of community space, local amenities, workspace and accommodation – something for everyone.
It is self-evident that the mill cannot continue to operate in its existing form in perpetuity and that the community needs to start to plan for what it wants to see in its place in the future. We do not want to have an eyesore of a housing development such as has blighted so many other communities and we want to see the village have a new heart that creates job opportunities for the current and future generations.
We need to start the planning process now to be in advance of others who may have a different vision for the future of the village. The mill will close at some date, because of the limitations on the economies of scale and the higher running costs that face the owners as a result of running an outdated facility. We do not want to see an industrial wasteland in the centre of the village and we do not want lots of ugly housing. We need a vibrant multi-purpose centre that attracts people from the surrounding settlements.
It is quite feasible to create a new heart for the village that will provide a mix of commercial, social and amenity facilities that will also employ a lot more people than are employed currently by the mill. The new centre can have a layout that flows between structures and landscaped recreational areas. The design of the new structures can adopt the influences of the existing surrounding architecture to give the impression that the growth has been organic, in the way that most villages have evolved over generations, using sympathetic materials and mixed roof lines.
A mixed development of retail, office, hospitality and services could reasonably generate over 100 jobs. The regeneration of the grain store site on Furlong Road into light industrial and business incubator units could reasonably generate over 50 jobs. The conversion of the listed buildings used currently as the mill offices and general stores into an hotel with bar and restaurant facilities could reasonably generate over 20 jobs. Imagine the difference resulting from 150 to 200 new jobs in the village and the attraction it would provide to the other communities nearby.