Planning a bright future
S TOKE-ON-TRENT does, perhaps unfairly, have a reputation for refusing to let go of the past and embrace the future. Some still do hanker for a return to the days when the city's landscape was dominated by pot banks, steel works and coal mines. And a reluctance to accept change has held the city back in the past but not anymore it would appear. The eye-catching bus station in Hanley is nearing completion. And the University Quarter, in Stoke, can't help but impress visitors arriving by train. And now we have the artist's impressions of the city council's new offices as part of the Central Business District, in Hanley. It is a striking modern building, inspired by one of the city's greatest potters. The easy option would have been for a run-of-the-mill structure to house the city council's 1,300 workers who are moving from the current civic centre in Stoke.
B ut in truth that was never really an option. To say the £40 million relocation proposal is controversial is nothing if not an understatement. Families in Stoke have been left fearing the worst by the proposal while taxpayers in the rest of the city simply can't understand why the authority is spending £40 million on the move in such austere times. So the city council had no option but to be bold and brave with its designs for the new building. Undoubtedly some people may think it's odd or weird and just won't like it. But to achieve its main aim the council had to make a statement and be iconic. Its reason for returning to Hanley is to anchor the new Central Business District. The thinking is that once the authority is in, others will follow to help transform that part of the city centre. It's a gamble that has to pay off for any number of reasons but what's planned at least gives it a fighting chance of succeeding.