'It looks like Beirut now everything has been demolished'
BUSINESSES are backing plans to build houses in one of Stoke-on-Trent's crumbling regeneration areas.
Developer Whitebarn Edge has applied to build 29 homes on the site of a former Hanley factory, which has already been knocked down.
BACKING: Below, Martin Adams, who runs A&A Auto Repair, is backing plans for houses in the Melville Street area of Hanley. Left, the site where homes are proposed. Pictures: Neil Hulse
The Melville Street area is part of the City Waterside masterplan which had been drawn up by regeneration agency Renew North Staffordshire in 2004 amid plans to build 2,500 homes.
But Renew ceased to exist from April 1 after building just 400 homes and demolishing 700 over its seven-year life-span.
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Whitebarn Edge wants to build 12 three-bed and 17 four-bed homes in Melville Street as part of the Melville Court development.
The one hectare (2.5-acre) site is part of a bigger development which is expected to include businesses and more homes.
But businesses in the area believe the dereliction has affected them over the past few years.
It has also seen a number of businesses forced to move as properties have been knocked down.
Martin Adams, who has run A&A Auto Repair, which backs on to the planned housing site, for the past six years, said: "Having houses built will be a godsend.
"We lost a lot of custom when the houses disappeared and nothing much was built.
"Now customers ring ahead but when they arrive they look around and decide not come in.
"Six years ago this area was busy and clean.
"We have had that many arguments with Stoke-on-Trent City Council, because everything has been flattened and then left to look like Beirut."
The 47-year-old, of Baddeley Green, added: "We asked for an eight-foot high fence to cover up the mess but we got a two-foot, six-inch fence.
"We tried negotiating our rent with the landlord because the business was decreasing but we couldn't.
"Housing will be a good thing."
The plan includes 12 houses backing on to the Caldon Canal, with easy access for all the residents to join the canal towpath.
The plans also include gardens and two car parking spaces for each property.
Alan Croft, who owns nearby AC Bathrooms, on Trent Trading Park, said the plans would help to smarten the area up.
He said: "This plan is more like what the developers should be building rather than the cardboard boxes elsewhere in the area. "Three and four bedroom houses are what is needed with decent parking.
"People want nice houses with gardens and play areas.
"Let's hope they smarten the place up because it cannot be any worse than it is."
The application to Stoke-on-Trent City Council states: "The housing plan responds to the house types currently under-represented in this area.
"It will increase the variety and mix of housing in the area to attract new residents.
"The housing is for larger families and all properties come with ample gardens and amenity space as stated in the City Waterside vision."
Council officials are expected to rule on the planning application over the next few months.