Anger as family firm is told it cannot move to new Daedalus zone

NOT HAPPY Brett Duke inside the showroom at Lee-on-the-Solent. Picture: Sarah Standing (123327-6953)
NOT HAPPY Brett Duke inside the showroom at Lee-on-the-Solent. Picture: Sarah Standing (123327-6953)

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A FATHER and son have been told they cannot move their business to the former HMS Daedalus airfield site – despite 15 years of negotiations.

Brett and Howard Duke, who run Fine Cars in Lee-on-the-Solent, have been in talks since 1997 to open a new £2m car showroom.

But after years of discussions, the pair have been told they are now not suitable for the planned business park at Daedalus.

Those behind the development say it is aimed at marine and aviation industries and is not suitable for a car dealership.

But the Dukes say that a relocation to Daedalus would allow them to expand, creating more jobs while still serving the community.

Brett Duke, sales director, said initial discussions began with then owners, Defence Estates, back in 1997.

‘Daedalus is a site that’s been talked about for redevelopment for years and years,’ he said.

‘We put our hands up first and said we’d support that – we’d go on there and contribute to the infrastructure of it.

‘We started looking in the mid to late-nineties to develop the business in the area – that was when Daedalus came up.’

The Dukes have spread their business across smaller sites in Gosport and Lee-on-the-Solent but say they need to relocate to grow.

As recently as 2010, Peter Cusdin, then development director of the now-defunct South East England Development Agency, emailed managing director Howard Duke to say he would be ‘pleased to progress’ their proposal.

But they have now been told that they cannot move on to the site.

The HCA, which now owns the land and is led by Mr Cusdin, acknowledged the Dukes’ interest in relocating to the site.

But it said the decision not to let them move on has been made by Gosport and Fareham councils, which are in charge of allowing which businesses go on the site.

Development director at the HCA Mr Cusdin said: ‘This has been set out in the planning application that has been agreed to support the development of the site earlier this year.

‘Local partners have offered other sites in the area as possible alternatives, but these have not been accepted.

‘Partners will continue to work with Mr Duke to find a solution that meets his needs and supports local economic growth in south Hampshire.’