29 firms 'show interest' in Stoke Civic Centre site ahead of CBD move
ALMOST 30 businesses and organisations say they are interested in buying up a 15-acre site including Stoke's Civic Centre, according to the city council.
The authority is attempting to sell off land and buildings including the former Spode Works, Civic Centre, Stoke Town Hall, King's Hall, Gordon House and Kingsway car park ahead of its move to Hanley's Central Business District (CBD) in 2015.
The move to a new HQ, which will require public funding of up to £55 million, has attracted fierce opposition from residents and traders who fear Stoke has no future without the 1,300 council workers who support its economy.
But officers today claimed 29 organisations have expressed an interest in buying the site.
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Opposition councillors have tabled a motion to the council for its next meeting calling on leaders to scrap the relocation, which the authority says will create thousands of jobs by attracting private firms to move into the CBD.
Save Our Stoke campaign organiser Graham Barrett, aged 61, of Honeywall, said: "I would take anything they say about the future of Stoke with a pinch of salt."
Several separate campaigns against the move, which include petitions of thousands of names collected by the March on Stoke group and Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe owner Martin Peet, are now planning to pool their resources.
Mr Barrett added: "We are trying to come together to show the scale of the opposition to this move. We are hoping to combine the efforts of the various organisations who are fighting this move to help our overall common aim – which is to stop this from happening."
The city council is planning to begin groundwork at the site which will see an engineering consultant paid to carry out structural surveys and flood risk assessments to help speed up a potential sale.
Work will include ground investigation, structural surveys of buildings and flood risk assessment. The ground investigation work will start on Monday, January 28.
It will last for three days and will see some spaces on Kingsway car park closed but the car park will remain open.
Councillor Ruth Rosenau, cabinet member for regeneration, planning and transport, said: "We have a number of significant interests.
"The results of these early surveys will make the site more attractive and help to secure a development partner to regenerate the area."
The city council expects a supermarket or shopping complex on the rear section of the Spode site.
Officers have acknowledge that it is 'likely' the £20 million Civic Centre will be knocked down by any major developer willing to take on the site.