Calls to make Hanley quarter more cultural
TRADERS in the Cultural Quarter say the area is in need of a 'boost' to attract more visitors.
Business owners say the area around The Regent theatre – branded a cultural hub by Stoke-on-Trent City Council – needs more shops, restaurants, and markets.
Paul Magee, aged 52, has run Gemini Menswear in Piccadilly for 37 years.
He said: "We're called the Cultural Quarter but you'd never know it from looking out the window – there's not much culture.
Call WHITEGATES Today 01782 209935 ..Limited offer. Available only up on production of voucher. Sell your home for £399 plus vat.* #EPC is required to market your home not included in offer.
Terms: *Upfront payment, non-refundable in the event of property remaining unsold, being withdrawn from the market or being sold by another agent, yourself or by any other means.#EPC £62.50 plus vat.
Contact: 01782 209 935
Valid until: Thursday, July 04 2013
"There are no farmers' markets, no pop-up theatres, no craft fairs or anything that you would expect from a cultural quarter.
"There's nothing even to indicate that you're in it, other than the Regent Theatre."
Mr Magee said the area had become 'run-down' and requires investment by the council.
He said: "Just look at the state of it: Even the flower boxes look shoddy.
"If they put more effort into maintaining the street, maybe more people would be interested in setting up businesses and shopping here." Jill Lawton, aged 53, has been landlady of The Unicorn pub for 14 years.
She said: "There were plans years ago to make an arch for the Cultural Quarter.
"The problem is that there's nothing to signpost anyway.
"We have always done quite well because of trade from the theatre, but last year we struggled because it was closed for 26 weeks, which proves that most of our custom is brought here by the theatre.
"If there were a few more decent independent shops maybe it would draw more customers in."
Mrs Lawton said the there are too many takeaways in the cultural quarter, attracting trouble from drinkers in the area.
She added: "It's a fine balance because if the rates come down then it attracts more takeaways which is all wrong for the 'cultural' atmosphere anyway.
"But the rents are very steep. It's something like £9,500 a year and that's without the flat above the pub."
Theatregoers and shoppers said they would like to see more independent shops and cafes in the street.
Shopper, Alison Browne, aged 40, from Hamil Road in Burslem, said: "I don't really think of this as the cultural quarter.
"It has the theatre, which is nice. It would be much nicer to have the occasional street market selling crafts or antiques or something.
"It's odd because there are signs everywhere to the cultural quarter but you really wouldn't know it to look round."
Tom Adams, aged 19, from Joiners Square, added: "There are a lot of chain shops in Hanley. It would be great to see something a bit less standard."
No-one from Stoke-on-Trent City Council was available for comment.