.

Hundreds sign petition to save Stoke businesses

More than 900 people have now signed a petition, asking the City Council not to demolish Gordon House in Stoke.

The authority confirmed last week that is looking at ways to maximise the commercial potential of Spode's China Halls, and improve the way it connects to the rest of the town centre - and that one idea being considered involves knocking down the council-owned building on Kingsway, and the five shop units below.

These are currently occupied by restaurants Baby Russets, Thalii and Sangam 1, as well as He and She Hair Fashions - which has been there for more than 40 years.

The owners of those businesses have told Signal they are worried about the impact leaving the site would have on their future, as well as the cost of making any new units fit for purpose.

An ePetition started by Labour Councillor Andy Platt on the City Council website has been signed by hundreds of people.

It states: "We the undersigned petition the council to call on the Tory/Independent controlled council to halt this plan to demolish Gordon House now and invest in Stoke Town centre.

"Less than 3 months ago we had an election where neither the Tories nor their Independent partners included this proposal in their manifesto."

The petition will run until 8 September.

Speaking about the proposals last week, Cllr Daniel Jellyman, cabinet member for regeneration, infrastructure and heritage, said: “One of our key priorities has been to invest time and money into bringing the Spode Works site back to life with a modern day purpose, and we’re really pleased with the progress made with the creative village concept. Spode Works has so much potential to be a catalyst for regeneration and we are starting to see that potential being realised. Our philosophy is clear – a successful Spode Works means a successful Stoke town centre, and we see the two going very much hand-in-hand. What’s good for Spode Works should be good for the town centre and its businesses, and vice-versa.

“Since we started to market the China Halls as an events space that was available to hire, demand and interest has really taken off. It’s a unique space to have not just for Stoke-on-Trent but also for the Midlands, and you can see that with the type of events it’s already attracting. We’re lucky to have this type of space available and I believe we would be missing an opportunity if we did not try and maximise its full potential. A thriving China Halls would be really good news for other businesses in the area and the town centre as a whole, but we need to make sure the two are more integrated than they are at present. It’s imperative we try and get more leisure-based activities in our town centres for the future. We have to change if we are to prosper. This means looking at ways to make the China Halls more visible, improving the entrances and enhancing the commercial opportunities for the building.

“We are evaluating all options in respect of the China Halls and Spode Works site, and meeting with the businesses was very much the start of a conversation we want to have with them about how the future for the town might look. We are at the early stages of considering how the buildings known as Gordon House could be opened up to create a courtyard and access onto Spode Works and into the China Halls. It’s important to stress no decisions have been made at this stage and it’s not something that is going to happen suddenly overnight.

“Some of the businesses have been there for many years and have built fantastic reputations, and we obviously want them to stay in the town and continue to thrive and be successful. If this idea is something we did choose to pursue, we’ve told the businesses we would support them to relocate to premises a short distance away in Church Street which form part of the Spode Works site. I think that would be a really amazing opportunity not only for them to be part of the site’s growth, but also to breathe new life into that part of the town centre. 

“We will of course engage with all businesses and residents if we get to the stage where definite plans are on the table, but we are not there yet. This is an exciting time as we plan ahead for what Stoke town centre could look like in the future, for the next 50 years or more.”

More from Local