Historic Middleport vicarage faces demolition
PLANS to knock down a 19th century vicarage have come under fire from a conservation charity.
The building, in Newcastle Street, Middleport, is facing demolition as part of pottery manufacturers Steelite International's planned £12 million expansion.
The company hopes to create 230 more jobs by building a new factory next to its existing site.
But the Victorian Society has called for the building, which is owned by Steelite and dates back to 1858, to be saved from the bulldozers.
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The organisation says it has historical significance in the area and needs to be preserved.
They also argue the demolition would go against the Townscape Heritage Initiative in Burslem, which has seen Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Advantage West Midlands and the Heritage Lottery Fund invest, or plan to invest, more than £4 million in historically significant streets and buildings in the area since 2007.
James Hughes, conservation adviser for the Victorian Society, said: "It seems crazy to use lottery money on a heritage building in 2007 and then raze it to the ground a few years later.
"We shouldn't be celebrating the town's history on the one hand while knocking down historic buildings in conservation areas.
"The building's proposed demolition flies in the face of the recent huge investment in Burslem's heritage.
"It would deprive the area of a building the council itself deems historically significant."
The building is located in a conservation area and the group, which campaigns for the Victorian and Edwardian historic environment, believes it is locally listed.
The planned factory development is expected to go before Stoke-on-Trent City Council's planning committee next month.
A spokesman for Steelite said the company is 'committed to manufacturing in Stoke-on-Trent.'
He added: "We are considering an application for planning permission which will lead to the expansion of operations at the Middleport factory.
"As part of this, an application has been made which, if successful, will result in the demolition of the former Heaths Filtration building and seven houses.
"The application forms a key part of Steelite International's plans to expand the production facility.
"Providing more jobs and opportunities is a key aspect for the company and the new facility."
Rosemary Wright, secretary of the Middleport, Longport and Dalehall Community Association said: "The only silver lining would be if the new building provided a significant number of new jobs which this area desperately needs."