Stoke council to buy and demolish ‘eyesore’ precinct

© Stoke Sentinel

Stoke-On-Trent City Council will demolish an ‘eyesore’ precinct in the city after the council announced it is aiming to buy the venue and knock it down to kick-start development.

A report will go before a special meeting of the council’s cabinet on October 2, where council leaders are set to give the go-ahead for the necessary land acquisition and demolition of the derelict East-West building.

Realis Estates, who own the site, have decided not to pursue their Unity Walk development, which had stalled in development for several years.

Cllr Ann James, Leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council says the building presents a ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the city centre and we can’t let it slip by. ‘

‘As we’ve seen with Smithfield, Ceramic Valley Enterprise Zone and the former Victoria Ground, the council forging the way with investment creates confidence,’ she added.

‘Our track record shows we get things done and that helps to attract private sector investment. That’s exactly what we want to see here, and we would welcome the views of both residents and businesses once we have looked at all the options for the site.’

The move would see the council, which already owns the old bus station part of the site, buy a number of individual properties or parcels of land to gain control of the majority of the site, subject to final agreement at a full council meeting on October 18.

The council would spend around £4m on acquiring the site and demolishing buildings, with a further £3.5m earmarked for the youth facility.

One potential option favoured by the council is the construction of a purpose-built youth facility offering a number of services for young people aged between eight and nineteen years old.

While plans are yet to be drawn up, ideas for the centre include a fitness suite, sports hall, boxing and martial arts gym, music, film and multi-media rooms, a café, arts and crafts areas as well as external activity space.

Duncan Mathieson, managing director of Realis Estates said: ‘We have spent many years putting together this strategically important site and were obviously disappointed that – despite significant investment of both time and money – we were unable to bring forward a development.

‘My historic connection with Stoke-on-Trent meant that I was keen to keep the site as a whole and – prior to fully marketing the site – we approached the city council with a view to selling them our interests in order to ensure that the opportunity to transform this end of the city centre wasn’t lost.’

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter


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