CONTROVERSIAL plans by Wyre Forest District Council to use a compulsory purchase order (CPO) to buy the land that currently contains 2-12 Lower Mill Street in Kidderminster will go ahead.
At a council cabinet meeting on Tuesday night, members agreed to proposals made by cabinet member for planning and regeneration, Conservative John Campion, despite furious opposition from current property owners and their tenants.
The council hopes the CPO will accelerate its regeneration plans for the town by obtaining the land for the owners of Weavers Wharf Retail Park, Henderson UK Retail Warehouse Fund.
The land will form part of its redevelopment of the Crown House and Bullring area of the town.
Henderson UK obtained planning permission for the redevelopment from the district council in April this year and said it had been in negotiations with the property owners since - something the property owners say has not happened.
During the meeting Mr Campion said: “The area of land is subject to the most significant development since the building of Weavers Wharf.
“It has always been the cabinet’s intentions that private arrangements be made with not only the land owners of the site but also with the tenants within those properties.
“Whilst I am sorry that businesses will be affected, we must commit to ensuring this project will be completed.
“That doesn’t mean that Hendersons can walk all over the owners and tenants - it doesn’t mean they can bully their way into this process and it doesn’t mean that the democratic rights of the tenants are thwarted.”
Property owners and their tenants said they had not entered into any negotiations with Henderson UK, which does not currently own any of the properties between 2 and 10 Lower Mill Street, and had had no communication with members of the council.
District councillor Liberal Fran Oborski said: “If Hendersons don’t own the properties then they don’t really have any basis on which to negotiate with the existing traders.
“They can talk to the traders and promise X, Y and Z but until they are in a position of ownership they are not in a strong position to negotiate with the businesses themselves.
“These are businesses that have been trading for a considerable number of years and they are people who have put their personal savings into their business and they feel threatened.
“We owe it to those businesses to give them some sort of realistic timetable so they know what they are up against.”
Various tenants and property owners wanted to speak at the cabinet meeting but their request was denied.