Campaigners march to support businesses in Old Mill Road
- Credit: Archant
Hundreds of people marched through Portishead on Saturday to show their support for businesses in Old Mill Road.
The campaigners are concerned about the future of a number of independent businesses after leaked plans revealed Standard Life Investments wants to build flats and leisure facilities in their place.
Businesses in the road have been told their leases will not be renewed past March 2019 and many are worried they will go bust.
Seven councillors were among the supporters who carried placards along the High Street to raise awareness of their plight.
Ryan Peake, from Ryans Garage, was one of the organisers. He said: “For just nine days of planning, we had a pretty good turnout with around 500-600 people.
“Standard Life Investments is trying to make Portishead a city. The infrastructure can’t handle hundreds more residents when it’s already under pressure.
“We’ve just got to wait until Standard Life puts in a planning application now and see how the council acts.”
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Fellow organiser Patrick Gardener, from T & G Woodware, added: “We would like to thank everyone that marched with us last Saturday.
“We also wish to thank our town councillors who supported us with seven attending with two abstentions.
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“It is likely we will repeat the march after we have seen a final proposal from Standard Life Investments who wish to remove the existing businesses in Old Mill Road to replace them with 350 dwellings, retail shops, bars, restaurants and cafés.
“I hope we will receive the same support from the people of Portishead as we all have an interest in the outcome.”
The businesses in Old Mill Road employ more than 250 skilled and semi-skilled workers.
Owners are now being forced to look for alternative sites in the town, but many feel it is unfeasible due to a lack of options and high costs.
Standard Life’s draft plan includes six new food and drink outlets, a cinema, eight retail units and around 350 flats along with other commercial or community space.
The firm is rumoured to be submitting an application soon. If plans are approved, Standard Life said it will ‘work with the council’ to help affected firms relocate.