Hanley's new civic centre developers in row with Stoke-on-Trent City Council over rival business park
A ROW has broken out between city council officials and the private firm hired to build its controversial new £40 million civic centre – over plans for a rival business park less than two miles away.
Developer Genr8 claims one of Stoke-on-Trent City Council's flagship regeneration schemes will sign up businesses which could move into Hanley's proposed Central Business District (CBD).
The authority wants to attract dozens of companies to Etruria Valley by working with developer St Modwen on a multi-million pound expansion designed to create hundreds of jobs.
But Manchester-based Genr8 has lodged an objection to the scheme over fears it will provide too much competition for the CBD.
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Genr8 Developments partner John Early said: "The Etruria Valley development close to Hanley city centre is promoting out-of-town office development. It will always be detrimental to the regeneration of the city centre."
Genr8 is to build the new civic offices on the site of the former Unity House as part of the CBD, which is expected to deliver a total of six office blocks, two hotels, cafes and restaurants.
The authority is relocating from Stoke to kick-start the project in the hope other private firms will follow.
Council planners are expected to approve the Etruria Valley business park plan at a planning meeting today.
But campaigners who have collected thousands of signatures protesting at the Hanley switch today raised concerns over the Genr8 dispute.
Save Our Stoke campaigner Graham Barrett, aged 61, of Honeywall, said: "We keep being told that everything is going according to plan but when you get to the truth of the matter there is squabbling, objections and a whole catalogue of problems.
"The senior council officers are earning salaries higher than Government ministers and it's time we started asking what they are actually doing to earn them."
News of the row comes a day after The Sentinel revealed the council is refusing to release land for the £14 million expansion of the Potteries Shopping Centre to protect the planned £350 million City Sentral development in Hanley.
Property expert Richard Day, a partner at Hanley-based estate agents Daniel and Hulme today called on the authority to resolve the dispute.
He added: "It's important that developers are working together so we can improve the city as a whole.
"I can understand where Genr8 is coming from. It is important that, if we're going to have a CBD, that it is where the office offer is going to be."
But Stoke-on-Trent Central MP Tristram Hunt said: "Genr8 should be focusing on delivery of the CBD.
"They have enough on their plate, and in the long term the two developments are not incompatible."
Newcastle Borough Council has also objected to the Etruria Valley scheme.
The city council declined to comment on the Genr8 objection.