Developers express interest in civic centre
SEVERAL developers have shown 'very serious' interest in buying the Civic Centre in Stoke, council leaders said today.
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.
It said 29 businesses have expressed an interest – some 'now very serious' – and reiterated that the land will be developed to coincide with the relocation.
Kingsway car park could be transformed into housing to help cash in on Government grant incentives for building new homes.
Critics say spending of up to £55 million in loaned money to fund the move is 'lavish', and that Stoke will become a 'ghost town' without footfall from council workers.
But the authority says private businesses will follow its move to the CBD, creating thousands of jobs.
Council leader Mohammed Pervez said: "We're fully aware of concerns but there will be footfall in Stoke. The CBD is about investment in the city, and it's why we're moving to the city centre.
"We've got to manage our budgets but we've also got to regenerate the city. Its future lies in jobs.
"I know there is a view that our city is six towns but if I am honest, where we are at the moment is not good enough. We have to compete with the most successful city centres in the country and the entire city will benefit from that."
Independent councillor Dave Conway, leader of the opposition, said: "You don't borrow money like it's going out of fashion at a time when the entire country is in the middle of austerity."