‘Relief’ as Old Mill Road eviction delayed

Jane Lewis (Fitness Hub), Andy Wilkinson (A Dog's Day Out), Amy Schools and owner Claire Cleeves (Fi

Jane Lewis (Fitness Hub), Andy Wilkinson (A Dog's Day Out), Amy Schools and owner Claire Cleeves (Fitness Hub), Phil Ford (Ryan's Rentals), Ryan Peake (Ryan's Group of Companies) and Patrick Gardner (T&G's Woodware). - Credit: Archant

Business bosses are ‘relieved’, after multi-year lease extensions were offered to all firms at Portishead’s under-threat Old Mill Road.

The second march to protest about Old Mill Road redevelopment.

The second march to protest about Old Mill Road redevelopment. - Credit: Archant

Traders faced being turfed out in March, but a deal has been agreed to keep Portishead’s industrial heart beating a little longer.

Aberdeen Standards Investments (ASI) owns the warehouses and hopes to demolish them in favour of building hundreds of homes, a cinema and other leisure offerings – but the process of securing planning permission is proving arduous.

The difficulty in winning favour for its plans has prompted ASI, also known as Standard Life, to offer all occupiers a three-year lease extension ‘until the way ahead for Old Mill Road is clear’.

John Lochrie, owner of Portisbeds, told the Times the news had come as a ‘relief’.

He said: “Although the future remains uncertain, that is a little further into the future now.”

“If it does get planning permission, at least we get nine months notice, and we hope the stay will be a little bit longer than three years.

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“Standard life has obviously realised its plans are going to take longer than it thought with all the opposition.”

Many people in the town have voiced their opposition to ASI’s plans, which were submitted to North Somerset Council in June – with fears it will deliver a hammer blow to employment opportunities for youngsters.

The council, too, has aired concerns over the plans and insists the vast majority of the site should remain designated as employment land.

Owner of gym The Fitness Hub Claire Cleeves said she is ‘excited’ and her staff are ‘very happy’ after the extension was inked.

She added: “We are a successful business and it’s great we can trade for an extended period.”

The Times understands most businesses at Old Mill Road have accepted the extension, but Coffetek – as reported in last week’s edition – has opted to exit the town in March amid the site’s uncertainty.

An ASI spokesman said: “We are committed to maintaining an open dialogue with all businesses at Old Mill Road and have worked with tenants to find the best solution for them.

“As part of this, all tenants have been offered a three-year extension to their current lease, with either party having the right to terminate on nine months’ notice.

“This means they can continue to operate as usual until the planning application has been determined and the way ahead for Old Mill Road is clear.”

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