£480k bill to design new Stoke-on-Trent City Council Hanley HQ
MORE than £2 million has already been spent on the development of Hanley's Central Business District.
Latest figures show Stoke-on-Trent City Council spent £2.3 million on the city centre scheme between April and December.
Most of the costs cover preparatory work ahead of the multi-million pound development on land between Broad Street and Warner Street.
But £480,000 has been spent on designs for the two buildings to be occupied by the council from 2015.
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Thousands of people have complained about the council's £40 million plan to move its HQ to Hanley and sell-off its Stoke site.
Protesters today labelled the amount of cash already spent as 'outrageous'.
Alan Barrett, aged 57, of Campbell Road, Stoke, who organised last month's March on Stoke protest, said: "I don't have anything against people getting paid for doing a job, but £480,000 seems like a huge amount of money to spend on the design phase.
"The plans for the buildings have gone on display at public consultations so if the council listens to public opinion then the plans may have to change anyway."
Dozens of campaigners met in Fenton last night to discuss the future of the campaign, following their 700-strong march on February 23.
Mr Barrett, below, added: "We need to organise our plan going forward. We will continue to pursue the council until it starts to take notice.
"What the council does not seem to realise is that if it does not start engaging with the people of Stoke-on-Trent and taking on our ideas then Labour will lose out at the next election.
"They need to engage with us and invite us to have a real discussion over the future of our city."
Developer Gener8 released the first images of the second council building in the CBD on Friday.
Residents' views on the design are still being accepted ahead of the submission of formal plans.
Protester Anthony Bradshaw, aged 39, of Penkhull, said: "If the council is building a new HQ then it needs plans but £500,000 is such a waste of money.
"If private investors want to spend money on the district then fair enough but it shouldn't be our money spent on new offices.
"The council says the business district will bring business into the city centre but why would that attract tourism?
"Instead of wasting money on these buildings we could do with an all-purpose conference centre or music venue."
About 1,300 workers are expected to move from Stoke's civic centre to the CBD in 2015. The council is building and occupying two office blocks in the CBD. Over 10 years the CBD will expand in six phases to include six office blocks providing office space, ground floor shops and cafes around a central piazza and hotels.
The authority says 300 jobs will be created during the building of the new HQ and up to 4,500 in the 10 years it will take for the wider CBD to be completed.
The existing civic centre is up for sale alongside the former Spode works, Stoke Town Hall, the King's Hall, Gordon House and Kingsway car park.
Leader Councillor Pervez said: “The new civic centre will help us to deliver key pledges that we made in our Mandate for Change – making Stoke-on-Trent the place to bring business and supporting and developing existing businesses.
“The city council will be the anchor tenant in the Central Business District which will see the city centre benefit from a major redevelopment project.
“It will act as the catalyst for change in the city with significant potential for further investment from the private sector. Around 4,000 jobs – many professional – will be attracted to the area as a direct result of the programme of regeneration as well as 400 construction jobs being created during the redevelopment of the centre.
“To further boost the local economy, the city council will be doing all it can to ensure these roles are filled by local labour and that contractors provide training and apprenticeships, as well as utilise local suppliers where possible.
“This is an investment in Stoke-on-Trent’s future.”