The eyesore East-West precinct is set to be demolished after the council announced it is aiming to buy the venue and knock it down to kick-start development on the key city centre site.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council has moved to buy the site in the interests of businesses, residents, visitors and the city centre’s image and regeneration. 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. 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 18 October.
Demolition work could start on site as early as January, with the site cleared and a car park built for short-term use – providing extra parking spaces for the city centre and additional income for the council to reinvest in services. At the same time, the council would begin looking at the long-term options of the site with a focus on community, leisure, commercial and residential developments.
One potential option favoured by the council on part of the site 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.
The council would spend around £4 million on acquiring the site and demolishing buildings, with a further £3.5m earmarked for the youth facility. The youth facility would aim to give young people from across the city access to somewhere exciting to go and something positive to do 364 days of the year.
Conservative Councillor Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, transport and heritage at the city centre, said: “The decision by Realis Estates not to pursue their Unity Walk development while disappointing presents the council with a unique one-off opportunity to be able to do the right thing for Stoke-on-Trent, and that is what we intend to do.
“This is a site with huge potential, linking the excellent Potteries Centre and Hive with the burgeoning Smithfield development, and we want a development that matches our ambition and aspiration for the city. It has to be something that complements what we already have and gives people a reason to come to the city centre.
“This is one of a number of investments taking place in all six towns across the city – work such as investing in our town halls and the historic Spode site are all about galvanising regeneration in the city and showing Stoke-on-Trent is very much open for business.”
The removal of this eye-sore is yet another sign that Stoke is on the up, after years of neglect and failed schemes under Labour.