Staffordshire County Council 'took far too long' to fill empty units
It has taken ‘far too long’ to fill empty units at the multi-million pound Staffordshire Place buildings, a leading councillor has said.
The ground floors of Staffordshire Place 1 and Staffordshire Place 2, which house Staffordshire County Council’s main office buildings, have been vacant since 2011 when the £38 million complex was built.
Last week it was announced that the units in Tipping Street, Stafford, had be filled with the University of Wolverhampton, The Loungers cafe bar chain and Sweet Cafe all signing up.
But Sue Woodward, Labour’s leader in Staffordshire, said: “It was a failure by the Conservative group to market the property properly.
“It is good that it is finally going to be used but it has taken far too long, and far too long for the Tories to get their act together.
"It costs the taxpayer to maintain empty buildings so really it should have been used for something but they did not have the initiative for that.
“I am sure there are groups who would have jumped at the chance to show their worth with a prominent town centre office space and it is a real shame they did not get that chance.
“There just seems to be a lack of creative thinking. When it comes to empty buildings you need to think differently about how the buildings can be used.
“I am not sure of the exact figure but it will have cost taxpayers for those units to be maintained.”
The Loungers’ Verso Lounge will occupy a unit on the south side of Staffordshire Place 1, while Sweet Cafe will take up space on the same side of Staffordshire Place 2.
The university will take the last remaining unit on the north side of Staffordshire Place 2. The ground floor of Staffordshire Place 1 is occupied by the town centre library
Mark Winnington, cabinet member for economic growth, said: “We’ve always marketed the units proactively, but it was always expected that these units would prove popular once the major retail development had opened at that end of the town centre and so it’s proved.
“I’m very pleased they will be generating an income for taxpayers, as well as adding to the vitality of the town centre, and I wish the tenants every success in their different ventures.”