ANGRY Kidderminster business owners say they will be forced to relocate or even close if plans to build 31 homes are given the go-ahead.

Wyre Forest District Council officers say the businesses' fate is not a planning matter but owners are nervously awaiting a decision by planning committee councillors at a meeting next Tuesday on whether to give UK Construction and Wyre Forest Community Housing permission to build affordable homes at the Harriers Industrial Estate, Stadium Close.

Existing industrial units, which house about eight to 10 businesses, would be demolished and replaced by houses and an apartment block and a new access road would be created from Ray Mercer Way. The plans are recommended for approval, subject to planning conditions, and a £6,200 "open space contribution" being met.

Tina Brooke, co-owner of AJ's Diner, said: "So what happens now? What help will we get? Most people would look to relocate with the right help [from the applicants, landowner or council]. They need to help people with their jobs as well as helping people to live in houses.

"This is quite an industrial area and needs to be kept as an industrial estate."

The diner's other owner, Mary Poulton, added: "Our locals have been coming here for 24 years, so they are all upset. We are angry we have not been told what is happening."

A spokesman for NMS Removals said: "I am not happy about the way this has gone down - we should have been given more notice. It is an inconvenience to us because now we have to find somewhere to go. We have got other premises but we need one in Kidderminster. We have been here for about 20 years and this is a shock.

In the report which will be put before the committee, planning officer Emma Anning said concerns were "not a material planning consideration". "As it is a contractual matter between the landowner and their tenants, it cannot be afforded any weight in the application's determination," she added.

"Were the application to be approved, council economic development and regeneration officers could be called upon to assist any business in finding alternative accommodation."

A council spokeswoman said those officers could help businesses looking for premises and added grants might be available to eligible businesses, which could call 0845 6015953 or email for information.

Greenhill ward Independent Community and Health Concern councillor Graham Ballinger said: "I can see the point about needing housing - well then let's have some more in the town centre in all these empty spaces above the empty shops, instead of replacing successful businesses."