Stoke-on-Trent City Council urged us to expand, says Potteries Shopping Centre amid land row
THE chief executive of the firm which owns the Potteries Shopping Centre claims the planned £350 million City Sentral complex will not happen – and insists the city council 'encouraged' it to develop expansion plans before refusing to sell the required land.
Capital Shopping Centres (CSC) says Stoke-on-Trent City Council revealed it would not sell the land needed for a £14 million extension of the Potteries Shopping Centre just three days before officers awarded planning permission.
Mike Butterworth, chief operating officer at CSC, said the firm spent 'hundreds of thousands' of pounds developing plans – which included a 10-screen cinema and six restaurants – only to be told the council would not sell land in Brewery Street and Bryan Street.
Now the firm claims Realis Estates' planned £350 million shopping complex is stifling other developments because the city council will only support the Realis scheme. The Potteries expansion was due to be completed in 2014 – a year before the shopping centre, multiplex cinema and food quarter at City Sentral is scheduled to open.
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Mr Butterworth said: "All we have done is put in an application, which was encouraged by the city council.
"We spent hundreds of thousands developing the scheme – only to then be told they would not sell the land. They told us that three days before it was granted planning permission.
"The whole thing does not add up. I don't want to criticise Realis, but I genuinely do not believe the development will happen and it is hanging over Stoke-on-Trent like a blight.
"We still think we can deliver a more modest expansion. But why should the people of Stoke-on-Trent settle for second best simply because the council will not co-operate?"
Mr Butterworth's comments follow a rebuke by Realis boss Duncan Mathieson, who dismissed the Potteries Shopping Centre's ideas as 'small-scale' and a 'short-term fillip.' He said: "I'm genuinely surprised anyone would think it would be right for the council to put the long-term regeneration of the city centre at risk in order to allow a small-scale extension of The Potteries.
"Above all else, investors want certainty, ambition and commitment from a local authority. This is exactly what the council is providing.
"Despite unfounded criticism and pressure from those with vested interests, a change in its strategy at this stage could undermine confidence in the city among investors.
"The size and nature of The Potteries extension means that, unlike City Sentral, it cannot act as a catalyst for the wider regeneration of the city.
"What it will do, in a very challenging climate, is confuse the retail and leisure market enough to undermine the excellent progress we have been making in attracting new tenants."
Council leader Mohammed Pervez said: "CSC knew land was going to be an issue."