Stoke-on-Trent's civic centre is marketed at European property show
SEVERAL developers have expressed an interest in snapping up Stoke-on-Trent's civic centre – after council leaders marketed the site on the French Riviera.
Follow-up meetings are to be held with interested parties over the next few weeks after the Stoke site – which includes the former Spode factory – was advertised in Cannes.
The contacts were made at this week's Mipim property conference which attracted more than 20,000 delegates, including 6,700 companies from 80 countries.
Make It Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire – an inward investment arm of the city council and Staffordshire County Council – sent a five-strong delegation to the conference.
They marketed the civic centre and Spode site, along with business units on Etruria Valley and Hanley's proposed Central Business District.
City council interim director of regeneration John Betty, who has now returned from Cannes, said: "People were surprised about the amount of work going on in Stoke-on-Trent.
"You have to realise that in the rest of the UK, Stoke-on-Trent, apart from its pottery image, doesn't have a very high profile.
"But people were generally pleased and they now realise there's more opportunity here than they have given us credit for. I think we managed to achieve a lot in terms of what in retail you'd call brand recognition."
The Make It team had a stand at the event, organised two receptions for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire, and held 100 one-to-one meetings.
Staffordshire was also represented by Knights Solicitors, Keele University and energy firm Wardell Armstrong.
The cost of the trip has not been disclosed.
City Councillor Mark Meredith, cabinet member for inward investment, who was also in Cannes, said: "The primary reason why we go to Mipim is to promote specific sites, and also to promote the city and the wider Staffordshire area among developers.
"It allows us to explain and highlight the opportunities for investment in the local area.
"The team has made a lot of noise about the opportunities in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. It's right that we were there.
"There's always competition and we know it's a difficult market place, but unless we're actually shouting about the opportunities here, those opportunities could go elsewhere."
Thousands of residents are fighting the plans to sell-off the civic centre site and move the authority to the CBD.
Protester Richard Snell, aged 66, of Penkhull, said: "No case has been made for moving the council offices from Stoke to Hanley. The idea that such a move will attract business to the city is a nonsense."