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Businesses in Kidderminster fear for the future
LONGSTANDING businesses in Kidderminster town centre are facing an uncertain future after being told their premises could be knocked down to make way for redevelopment.
About eight businesses in Lower Mill Street could be reduced to rubble under plans by Wyre Forest District Council and investment firm Henderson Global Investors – owners of Weavers Wharf – to breathe new life into the Bull Ring.
Shocked owners received letters out of the blue on Saturday morning, informing them that their business premises, which many have spent years building up, could be targeted, leaving dozens of people out of work.
It is believed the space is needed to make way for new restaurants and a bridge over the canal that would link Weavers Wharf with Matalan as part of the plans to transform the town centre.
Tina Mantle, owner of Woolwise, said shop owners were angered as they had not been consulted on the plans, adding she feared she would end up bankrupt if her family-run wool shop was knocked down.
“We had a letter saying they are going to do a compulsory purchase order to knock it down. This is our business. This is our livelihood.
“I had to remortgage my house to support myself and I will be homeless and shopless if they knock it down.”
She added her loyal customers would be “up in arms” about the news as her shop was a “little community,” holding clubs such as Knit and Natter.
“I believe little businesses are the hub of the UK,” Mrs Mantle added. “What they are doing is chasing businesses out of the town centre.”
Tahar Aziz, who owns Paradise Balti, said he was concerned for the future of his restaurant, which has been in Lower Mill Street for 18 years.
“We are not happy and we don’t want to move,” he told The Shuttle. “We are worried because we have worked very hard to establish success. The letter came as a shock.
“It’s very hard these days for businesses to start again and re-establish themselves. Everybody knows where we are. It’s like someone trying to kick you out of your own house.”
Amarjit Tanday, owner of Kidderminster Pharmacy, said if his premises were knocked down it would be “detrimental” to his business.
“We would have to move elsewhere in Kidderminster and the location that we have is ideal for us.”
The shop owners said they would be setting up a petition against the plans.
Conservative John Campion, district council leader, said: “The Bull Ring area of Kidderminster, including Crown House and the entrance to Weavers Wharf, needs transforming as it’s part of a key gateway to the town.”
He added: “The council has, however, had no direct contact with any of the businesses affected by the proposals.
“It is for Hendersons as the developer to negotiate with the landowners.
“Hendersons is working closely with the freeholders in order to find an optimum solution for all current tenants, including relocating existing businesses.
“Compulsory purchase powers remain a future option for the council to consider but we would expect agreements with the freehold owners to be reached.”
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