BUSINESS owners affected by the compulsory purchase order (CPO) of Lower Mill Street have called the decision a “disgrace”.

The decision has angered the traders, who will have to move out of their premises so redevelopment work can commence.

Property owners and tenants claim the statements made by the council that Henderson UK has been in negotiations with them are wrong.

Tina Mantle, owner of Woolwise with her husband Roy, said: “We first heard about the plans in October of last year, when the council gave us notice but, apparently, they have been planning it for the past two years."

She added: "In essence, they have frozen our assets because we can’t purchase another property, look for another property or move to another property until Hendersons negotiate with us.

“Their decision to redevelop the area has blighted the businesses. We are down 50 per cent since the announcement because there is so much uncertainty.

“We want people to know we’re still here and still open as this has caused uncertainty not just for us owners but for our valued customers.”

The rental rates that the businesses pay in Lower Mill Street are less than in any other part of the town due to the buildings' landlady, Joan Rodenhurst, offering lower rates due to the public services the shops provide.

Pauline Gascoyne, Woolwise accountant, said: “Mrs Rodenhurst values her existing tenants and she values the service they provide to the town.

“The rent at Woolwise is less than £5,000 a year. Where in Kidderminster can they move to where they get those kind of rates?”

Tai Aziz, property owner of Paradise Balti, has received one offer from Henderson UK, which he rejected.

“When I started the business in 1995 it was a 48-seater restaurant and we were paying £12,000 rent," he said.

“Three years ago we upgraded the restaurant to a seating capacity of 110 and they have now said my business is worth rental of £10,000.

“So, with the restaurant being bigger and with six flats upstairs that make £2,400 a month they think it’s worth less.

“They have not entered into any kind of dialogue with us. We have been trying for weeks to get in touch with them but they ignore us.

“It’s a disgrace.”

Other business owners, including Kevin Wilde of La Brasserie and Angelina Salacinski of Angelina’s Hair and Beauty, said they wanted to know what was happening with their business as they needed to plan for the coming months.

Mrs Salacinski said: “We need some kind of timescale. At the moment it’s like living in limbo as we can’t do anything until we have answers.”

Mrs Mantle added: “We haven’t been told anything over the last two years. The council have waited till the last minute, when we can’t move and have us in a box.”