'Please don't send in the bulldozers!'
HUNDREDS of people are fighting plans to knock down a 19th century vicarage.
The building, in Newcastle Street, Middleport, is facing demolition as part of pottery manufacturer Steelite International's planned £12 million expansion.
The company hopes to create 230 jobs by building a new factory next to its existing site.
But 283 people have signed a petition calling for the vicarage, which is owned by Steelite and dates back to 1858, to be saved from the bulldozers.
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The Victorian Society has also joined the campaign for the building to be preserved.
It argues the demolition would go against the Townscape Heritage Initiative in Burslem, which has seen more than £4 million invested in historically significant streets and buildings since 2007.
Conservation adviser for the society, James Hughes, said: "We object to the demolition of this dignified and charming building.
"Both for the total loss of the undesignated heritage asset and the harm it would cause to the conservation area in which it stands."
Burslem History Club member, Michelle Reynolds, aged 38, who launched the petition, said: "An alternative use should be sought for the buildings as the area would benefit greatly from a range of architectural features rather than factory buildings.
"A decision to demolish the building would have significant consequences for the future of the town.
"Once it is demolished, it's gone. It's good that Steelite want to expand, I am not against that, as it will bring in more employment, but not at the cost of knocking down a building with historical significance."
A decision on whether to allow the demolition of the vicarage building, known as the Heaths, is expected to be made by Stoke-on-Trent City Council's development management committee.
Objector John Webb, who works for a housing association, said: "We need to protect the limited heritage this city has left and I would urge the committee to reject the application for demolition."
A spokesman for Steelite said the company is 'committed to manufacturing in Stoke-on-Trent.'
He added: "Providing more jobs and opportunities is a key aspect for the company and the new facility."
Steelite also wants to demolish seven terrace houses along with the vicarage.
The council said the vicarage, which is currently empty, was not on the statutory list for listed buildings but had been 'noted as a building of special interest.'
In 2008, Steelite improved the external appearance of the building thanks to Heritage Lottery Fund cash, but no use for it was found.
Resident Clare White, said: "It's a lovely landmark building and money spent on it so far should not be wasted."