Owner wants to turn fire-hit Leopard into shops and 17 flats

-Credit: (Image: Andy Mackay)
-Credit: (Image: Andy Mackay)

Long-awaited plans have been lodged to turn one of Stoke-on-Trent's most-loved buildings into shops and 17 flats. The Leopard remains a burnt-out wreck after fire ripped through the Burslem town centre building more than two years ago.

The Market Place building had operated as a pub for almost 300 years and Josiah Wedgwood and James Brindley once met there to discuss the building of the Trent and Mersey Canal. But the venue fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and never reopened.

Staffordshire Police arrested four Stoke-on-Trent men on suspicion of arson and burglary in the aftermath of the 2022 fire. But the men were later released without charge and police warned the exact cause of the fire may never be known.

Now plans have been submitted for the shops and the 17 assisted-living flats. Stoke-on-Trent City Council planners are expected to rule on the application later this year.

The planning application states: "The property is currently still in a severely-damaged state and requires immediate intervention to prevent losing this historical asset. The front section of the basement and ground floor will become the retail use and the rear will provide accommodation as well as communal space. Each flat will include a bedroom, bathroom and a shared kitchen with living and dining space. Additionally, there will be space to the basement level to be used by staff members and accommodate communal space for meetings that will also include a main reception, an office space, a communal lounge and a guest suite."

Drone footage of The Leopard Hotel in Burslem
Drone footage of The Leopard Hotel in Burslem -Credit:Ash Thomas Films

Daneets Investment has owned the building since 2021.

The planning application adds: "Currently, the property is severely damaged due to the fire that broke out in 2022. The proposal aims to address the damage caused and repair the building to bring it back into use as the historical significance would require buildings of such heritage importance to be maintained and not permanently lost. A structural appraisal was carried out which identified the property to be severely damaged, but that can be restored through appropriate measures and adequate planning."

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