LEEK has fought back against the recession with more than £120 million of investment; and is now looking ahead to a prosperous 2014.
While many towns across the country have seen boarded-up premises, Leek has remained solid.
The town has also been named as having one of the top 10 high streets in the country in a national poll, the results of which are due this month.
Now community leaders feel that 2014 could see the town prosper further as a £4.5 million Premier Inn and Waitrose prepare to open this year.
A £45 million investment in affordable housing will also come to fruition, which includes an 88 retirement apartment development at Daisy Haye, which is scheduled to open in the spring.
The town has also seen a £45 investment by supermarket giant Sainsbury’s, which has led to several industrial units being built along with a large store and petrol station.
Now a planning application has been submitted to build 39 affordable homes on the site.
Other multi-million investments have also been completed by Adams Foods and a £1.5 million refurbishment of the former Swan pub, now The Green Dragon, by Wetherspoon.
Plans are also expected to be submitted early in the New Year for a multi-million investment at the former Hughes Concrete site at Barnfields.
This is set to see new industrial premises, housing, a marina and railway station built.
In addition,further works to extend the ‘public realm’ work in Derby Street are set to start later this month.
Leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Sybil Ralphs, said: “We can look back at 2013 as a year when real progress was made on all fronts.
“We are seeing major investment in the Moorlands from national companies including Premier Inn, Sainsbury’s and JCB.
“We have much to look forward to in the New Year when Waitrose and Premier Inn open their doors.
“We’ll hit the ground running in January when phase two of the Derby Street works get underway.
“We’ve pledged to work in partnership with businesses to minimise disruption and the end result will be a much improved town centre for everyone, one that benefits Leek’s pedigree as one of the top 10 in the country.”
Leek resident and partner at Spout Coffee Shop, in St Edward Street, Rachel Hipkiss, said: “Leek has improved greatly over the last two years, especially with the amazing Totally Locally campaign and some wonderful town champions.
“When I came back to live in Leek full-time in June 2013, I realised just what I'd being missing.
“There's still good housing available for people of all ages and pocket sizes, we've got great shops, many independent, that provide everything you need.
“We've also got amazing places to eat and drink.
“We still have a market twice a week, which is great for the town. There are also fantastic hair salons and beauty places.
“The town has got two pop-up cinemas and a great arts and cultural vibe too, along with lots of little galleries and great opportunities for talented artists to show off their skills.”
Leek town mayor, John Fisher said that the town was bucking the trend and had a lot to look forward to.
He said: “The town has a great community spirit and lots of wonderful independent shops.
“We have seen millions of pounds worth of investment, which is helping the town’s people and also putting us on the tourist and visitors map.
“In 2014 we could see plans for a canal basin and the return of the railway.”
President of Leek Chamber of Trade, Brian Johnson, said the Totally Locally project had been a success for the town.
He said: “The chamber of trade helped to fund the start-up of Totally Locally. It was one of the best things done in a long time as it has made such a difference by breathing vibrancy into local shopping.
“Over the last 12 months we have held our own. It is also great to see new retailers coming onto the streets.”