Will any developer snap up this site?
WORK is set to begin on a multi-million pound leisure and retail complex in the city centre – despite no developer being in place to take on the project.
Plans to overhaul the derelict Hanley land have been beset with problems since planning approval was first given in 2006.
The scheme completely stalled three years later when developer Lear Management went into receivership.
The firm had originally planned to build a hotel, superstores and a cinema as well as completing the Potteries Way ring road in a £60 million venture on land between Waterloo Road and Century Street.
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Now receiver PriceWaterhouseCooper has secured permission to keep the planning approval alive after agreeing to carry out minimal work on the land – despite no developer snapping up the site.
Under the original 2006 deal, Stoke-on-Trent City Council was due to receive more than £300,000 for environmental improvements once building work started.
But city councillors have agreed to waive the payment to help the receiver market the land.
A council report states: "This will allow the site to be marketed with a permission which is still in existence and assist with the regeneration of this important site.
"It is not intended, at this stage, to build the scheme out, rather to undertake sufficient work only in order for it to be determined as a material commencement."
New revised designs for the site show a large B&Q store along with another vast unit.
The overall Century Street scheme is set to include three superstores on the ground floor, four restaurants or cafes on the upper ground floor and a cinema with up to eight screens on the first floor.
It is hoped that the Hanley development will create more than 400 jobs if all the units are filled.
Designs show a new stretch of road – New Kiln Road – which links Waterloo Road with York Street.
Planning committee member Councillor Andy Platt said: "It will be positive if we can eventually finish off the ring road." The plans are part of a wider 5.3-hectare site which also includes a proposed hotel and casino.
More than £1.8 million has already been spent knocking down houses in the adjoining regeneration area.
Property expert Richard Day, a partner at Hanley-based estate agents Daniel and Hulme, said: "It is important that planning permission is kept alive on a site like this.
"It makes it more attractive to a developer to have permission as the process to secure it can be a long one.
"It is similar to a lot of empty sites in North Staffordshire that have been affected by the economic climate. It is a matter of waiting for things to improve and for developers to return to the market."