Businesses given notice to move to make way for Longton Asda
BUSINESSES have been given two years to vacate their site if plans to build a supermarket on the land are given the go-ahead.
The Sentinel reported earlier this month that supermarket-giant Asda is to submit a planning application to Stoke-on-Trent City Council for a new store at the former Somerfield site, in Longton, next year.
Plans are currently being drawn up by Barlows Holdings Limited for the development which is thought to include additional industrial units or leisure facilities as well as an underground car park, with 400 parking spaces for shoppers.
But while final plans have yet to be submitted, businesses on the Spring Garden Road site have already been informed they will either have to move or see their premises rebuilt on the site.
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Kahsar Hussain, who runs KTF carpets and tiles, fears the move could be the end of his family-run business.
He said: "We have been here for eight years and now we have been told that we won't be given permission to renew our lease at the end of our contract in 2013 because of these plans; so we fear we are going to lose business.
"We have known for a while that something was in the pipeline, but we weren't told what.
"But now we know it could be Asda I am worried. As we are now, we are in a small industrial unit out of town and the rates are affordable, but as soon as a company as big as Asda moves in, the rates could go sky high and we just wouldn't be able to afford it.
"We have been told we will be offered compensation if we move before our lease is up, but I fear we will be losing out."
The site is also home to Beddie Buys bed shop and Willow Bank Doctors' Surgery.
Staff at the surgery declined to make a comment, but a spokesman for NHS Stoke-on-Trent confirmed that other sites are already being explored for the health centre.
The spokesman said: "We have held initial discussions with Asda but we are also exploring alternative sites – detailed planning has been undertaken over the last 18 months and this is progressing."
It is thought the plans for the new supermarket will also incorporate new pedestrian routes and improved public transport links to and from the site, which lies on the approach to Longton town centre, close to Dresden.
Sue Mathers, who owns Bear With Us, close to the site in Trentham Road, Longton, has welcomed the scheme.
She said: "I hope this happens, I don't think having an Asda will do any harm at all. There was a supermarket there before and the independent shops didn't suffer.
"In fact I think it might even boost trade, because if there is another big supermarket in the town maybe more people will be inclined to shop away from the Tesco area and down towards us."