Plans are lodged for new Hanley civic centre
PLANS have been submitted for the city council's controversial new kaleidoscope-style HQ and central library.
Developer Genr8 has asked Stoke-on-Trent City Council for planning permission for the first of two office blocks the authority will occupy in Hanley from 2015.
The new civic centre will cost £40 million of the council's £55 million investment in the planned Central Business District (CBD).
Plans show the 100,000 sq ft, five-storey complex on land between Broad Street and Warner Street will house a 13,600 sq ft library to replace the public section of nearby City Central Library.
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Designs show open plan offices, a grand central atrium, rooftop solar panels and cycle storage as part of plans to encourage workers to leave their cars at home.
Demolition work is underway to clear more than 12 shops in Broad Street to allow the development to begin.
Members of the Save Our Stoke campaign – which is fighting to keep the civic centre where it is – today accused the council of submitting the plan immediately before Christmas to minimise responses to the public consultation.
Campaign co-ordinator Graham Barrett, aged 61, of Stoke, said: "They've done it when nobody has time to think about it to just get it through.
"There have always been rumblings about the city council, but I don't think there has ever been such a consolidated opposition to one plan.
"People really feel something has got to be done. They can't spend this much money at a time of austerity."
The council is building and occupying two office blocks in the CBD. Over 10 years the CBD will expand in six phases to include six office blocks providing office space, ground floor shops and cafes around a central piazza and hotels.
Residents' groups and Stoke traders are opposing the plans, which include selling the civic centre, Spode, King's Hall and town hall to offset the amount it will loan. But the city council insists the CBD will bring 4,500 new jobs to the city once completed, as well as 300 jobs during the building work.
Doug Wardle, of traders' group the City Centre Partnership, said: "The big increase in footfall will be a positive thing for Hanley.
"As well as the workers, who will need to shop and buy their lunch, there will be a lot of residents coming in to visit the civic centre. While they are there they are going to have a look at things and do a bit of shopping."
Council and Labour group leader Mohammed Pervez, below, said: "Despite deep cuts to our funding from Government we are doing everything possible to stimulate jobs and growth in our city.
"I'm aware of the controversy around the CBD and the council's move.
"But a successful city needs a successful city centre and we need to act now to safeguard Stoke-on-Trent's future.
"We will do everything to minimise borrowing and raise the money from the sale of surplus land and property."
The planning consultation ends on January 11.