By Kelly Wickham
Business owners at St James industrial estate have expressed their concern over losing their premises by the end of the year.
Several have said they do not want to leave the estate and it will mean closure for some businesses.
Deb Clarke, from GR8 Engineering, told the Chichester Post: “I feel from talking to other tenants, most people would be more than happy to keep the status quo -shared toilet facilities and slightly tatty units, to ensure their business’ existence.
“In a nutshell, we don’t want to go! Some long established successful businesses will definitely be forced to close.
“The council has been discussing the redevelopment/refurbishment of the estate for a couple of years now.
“We have always been led to believe that the council would support the tenants by moving us out while units were refurbished where possible, hopefully within the estate or close by within other council-owned industrial premises.”
Debs said they appreciated the units were not up to modern standards and lacked toilet facilities within each unit and were probably not the most energy- efficient.
She also said many of the companies, some whom had been there for over 30 years, offered services to thousands of customers within a large radius, at the same time as employing many local people.
She added: “Many of the businesses on the estate are ‘undesirable’ to landlords – they are garages, MOT centres, welding and metalwork businesses, gas canister suppliers, etc.
“Not only are these companies finding alternative premises hugely expensive, easily three times the current rents, but hard, bordering impossible to find premises that will consider them in the first place!
“The companies of St James industrial estate offer a wide range of services to local people – and are under threat because of the closure of the estate.”
Debs also said that many units for rent elsewhere in the area have had price increases since letters were sent to the industrial estate tenants
“We think the council should have stuck to the original plan – namely do any refurbishment in stages, starting with the empty units available,” said Debs.
“When they are done, move people into the newly-refurbished units and then do the ones they have vacated. Leave the loos as communal but refurbish them.
“In previous meetings with estates officers, they were trying to ensure we would be accommodated, it seems now that the council just wants us gone before the end of the year.”
Cllr Martyn Bell, the council’s cabinet member for growth, place and regeneration, said: “We have reached a point where we not only have to take action, but where we need a long term solution.
“We investigated whether part of the site could continue to function while the works started but, unfortunately, this was not an option.”