Landowner wants to demolish Homebase, Argos and McDonald’s in Portishead to build homes

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

Campaigners 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

Angry business owners in Portishead have started a petition after plans for business units to be knocked down and replaced by houses were revealed.

Old Mill Road has been identified by North Somerset Council as an extra area for 100 homes in its sites allocation plan – a document illustrating where it will permit new homes.

Landowner Phoenix Life Fund approached the council with the idea and would like to eventually demolish Wyndham Way Retail Park – home of Argos, McDonald’s and Homebase – so even more homes can be built. Leases in place mean this could not happen until at least 2025.

That area of land though is not accepted by the council in the sites allocation plan which outlines plans up until 2026, and says the Old Mill Road development would still allow ‘sufficient land for retail, leisure and employment opportunities’.

Adding Old Mill Road to the plan means the council expects Portishead to take about 3,360 homes between 2006-2026 – although most have been built.

The prospect of more homes at the expense of business has angered traders. They believe new homes on the old paper mill site and plans to build apartments rather than offices at Harbour Crescent show not enough is being done to create employment opportunities.

Claire Cleeves, who owns The Fitness Hub Gym, said: “These plans go against so much set out in the national planning policy framework like building a strong, competitive economy, ensuring the vitality of town centres and promoting healthy communities.

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“We hope the whole town will support our campaign to help protect this part of Portishead which contributes so much to the local community.”

The campaign has attracted more than 900 signatures and has enlisted the help of Cllr Reyna Knight.

But many fear the latest draft of the housing plan – which was due to be noted by the council’s executive yesterday (Tuesday) as the Times went to press – will leave them powerless.

Ryan added: “There are many people in Portishead who say North Somerset councillors ride roughshod over the people who elected them and who they are supposed to be representing.

“Our situation is giving those councillors an opportunity to show they are listening to their constituents and that they care about their communities.

“They need to defer any Government directives in favour of securing the long-term future of this great town.

“When you factor in, not only the extra vehicles on the road and the current employees relocating outside of Portishead for employment, but the additional new home owners who will be commuting to and from Bristol, you might as well say ‘welcome to the Portbury Hundred car park!’.

To view the petition, visit www.change.org/p/save-old-mill-road* To see what North Somerset Council’s executive said about the proposal, see next week’s North Somerset Times.