Traders locked in talks on relocation ahead of Stoke-on-Trent City Council's move to Hanley
TEN city businesses still need to agree terms over their move from the proposed new Central Business District.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is in talks to try to move the businesses from part of Broad Street, in Hanley.
It approved proposals for phase one of the £180 million business district scheme in March last year and work was expected to start by Christmas.
But there are 10 buildings which the council still needs to acquire.
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It comes as developer Genr8 asked the council to revise the conditions of the planning permission to enable it to start on works.
The firm wants to carry out engineering works, such as new drainage, during August, while negotiations continue.
But traders say they feel the deals being offered to them are still not in their best interests.
Kevin Broad, who has run The Gentry Hairdressers for 39 years, claims the multi-million pound project has cast serious doubt over the future of his livelihood.
The 56-year-old, of Birches Head, said: "I feel like I am being forced out and I don't want to leave.
"I am not ready to retire yet and business has been even better since Tesco opened as a walkway leads directly on to Broad Street.
"I own the building outright and it wouldn't be viable for me to rent in the city centre.
"I don't understand why they cannot combine the old with the new as other cities across the country have done."
Some businesses, including Hancock's Pet Centre, Wonderland fancy dress shop and Rendezvous takeaway, have already relocated.
But remaining traders say they have been left in the dark over the scheme.
Demolition works had been due to start at the Andromeda building, in Cannon Street last month.
However the 1980s structure – which was one home to Rileys snooker club and Regimes nightclub – is still standing.
Lynn Shemirani, aged 54, of Tittensor, who has run the Quartermaster stores for 28 years, says she has been forced to shelve any refurbishment work on her business.
"You don't know whether to spend any money on the building if it is going to be pulled down in a few months," she said.
"We last heard in January that the plans were going ahead but we have been told no more since then."
Soo Ashley, of Newcastle, who runs Soo's Shop for more than 20 years, said: "We just want to know what is happening but we don't seem to be getting any answers.
"We all feel very let down and it has been distressing. In January I told the girls who work here to brace themselves as things could happen soon, but nothing has.
"We've said we want to work alongside the council but we have just been left in the dark.
"We just want customers to remember it is business as usual."
The Central Business District will comprise of six office blocks, two hotels, and a retail area based around a public square. The city council will relocate to the site from the Civic Centre in Stoke.
A spokesman for Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: "Site investigation works are taking place so that any potential remedial works can be identified and planned.
"We've been in negotiations on a number of buildings, and these continue."