Monday, 11 May 2009

A Worrying Development

Several small retailers in Worcester Park face an uncertain future under plans to redevelop part of the town centre's shopping area.

If planning consent is granted, a number of businesses could be forced out to make way for the part-demolition and extension of the site at the junction of Central Road and Windsor Road, with other retailers and residents in the block facing months of disruption as works are underway around them.

As well as redevelopment of the retail units, the plans would see the building rise to three storeys high, providing five new two-bedroomed flats and seven new one-bedroomed flats.

The ownership structure of the existing site means that 'Camera Continental' and 'Worcester Park Motor Spares' would remain in place on Central Road.

However, the plans would mean that most of the existing Windsor Road shops including 'Mike's Music', 'Ginger & Garlic' and 'Worcester Sparks' (formerly Powerhouse and now under new management) would be demolished to make way for two larger shopping units.

The proposals have left many of those affected feeling angry about the lack of consultation, with most only learning of the plans when the Sutton Council planning application notices were posted through their doors.

Plans for redevelopment of this site have been turned down in the past, but with a 6-month break clause in the Windsor Road shopkeepers' leases the retailers face uncertainty until the issue of planning permission is decided.

Whilst developers are promoting their proposals as an opportunity to enhance the local shopping scene and improve a 'run down' site in the town centre, one must question the wisdom of forcing out small independent retailers to make way for larger units (with more expensive rents) when the number of empty shop units in the area is already at an all-time high.

Full details of the plans can be viewed on Sutton Council's online planing portal. Consultation on the redevelopment ends this Friday (15th May).