Council plans Civic Centre sale
THE Civic Centre and King's Hall in Stoke are set to be sold off as 2,000 council staff are moved into a £40 million office complex in Hanley.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has unveiled plans to off-load its Stoke headquarters, neighbouring Swann House and up to 40 other buildings across the city.
Workers will move into two purpose-built office blocks in Hanley's Central Business District (CBD), which is being developed on the site of the council's former base at Unity House.
The council said the CBD, which is considered crucial to major city centre regeneration schemes like the £350 million City Sentral shopping centre, can only attract businesses if the authority takes the plunge by kick-starting its occupation.
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Over the next 10 years it is hoped 4,500 more jobs will be created at the CBD in four further office blocks, two hotels and scores of cafes and shops built around a central piazza – all constructed by the private sector.
The regeneration blueprint will see:
Two central office blocks constructed for the council in Hanley at a cost of £40 million to house its office staff from January 2015;
The Civic Centre marketed as a package with the neighbouring Spode site, Kingsway car park and Kings Hall to attract a major multi-million pound development like a science park which supersedes previous plans for a supermarket;
Public sections of Hanley's City Central Library incorporated into the ground floor of the CBD alongside a cafe with academic and research departments also relocated.
The authority plans to loan the cash needed to build the new HQ, while raising £25 million by selling off buildings.
It estimates it can save £2 million a year on reduced energy and maintenance bills by moving to a new complex – and avoid spending £20 million on a backlog of repairs at its outdated buildings.
Chief executive John van de Laarschot said: "There are risks but to move the city forward we have to make some bold moves. In the current market, the private sector is simply not prepared to go first."
Council leader Mohammed Pervez added: "This will stimulate other businesses and encourage them to come into the Central Business District and create much-needed jobs for the city."
Concerns were raised last night about the future of Stoke town centre with more than 900 workers based at the Civic Centre and 450 at Swann House being moved to Hanley.
Council meetings are likely be held at the new HQ or Hanley Town Hall.
Peter Knight, aged 43, managing director of the Computers Sense laptop repairs centre, in Campbell Place, Stoke, said: "This is just another example of Hanley getting all the benefits and Stoke being forgotten. Stoke has just been picking up, and then they take thousands of people away from the area and it's just going to die again."