COMPANY director and local businessman Brett Duke claims that trying to get a place on the Solent Enterprise Zone was a waste of time that cost him thousands of pounds.
Mr Duke, a director of Fine Cars, a car company in Lee-on-the-Solent, has criticised the newly-created zone, at Daedalus, for not supporting local businesses.
Now, after three years of fighting, Mr Duke says he has finally given up on his dream of moving on to the zone and that his car showroom is now looking better than ever.
Mr Duke said: ‘The enterprise zone is supposed to be helping businesses to expand and to generate new jobs.
‘We were trying to relocate and expand and we were told that we were not allowed. It seems very unfair.
‘They are not interested in local businesses.’
Fine Cars was under pressure from Kia to upgrade its showroom and it faced losing its franchise unless it complied.
After having its hopes of moving on to the enterprise zone quashed, the company applied to expand its site in Portsmouth Road, but it faced opposition from residents who were worried about over-crowding and noise.
The plans were rejected by Gosport Borough Council but an inspector overruled that decision on appeal and the work has now been done.
Mr Duke said that despite three years of setbacks, he is pleased to finally open the showroom doors after securing the Kia dealership.
He added: ‘We did the work in 28 days and it was all done in extra time but it is done and now we are moving on.’
He estimated that the lengthy process cost £10,000.
Leader of Fareham Borough Council, Cllr Sean Woodward, questioned the cost and said that Fine Cars was refused on to the enterprise zone because it did not meet the zone’s criteria of ‘aerospace, aviation or marine manufacturing business.’
A spokesman from the Homes and Communities Agency, which is behind the Solent Enterprise Zone, said it was keen to hear from businesses that want to move on to the zone, but stressed that the business must by involved in the manufacturing process within the aerospace, aviation and marine sectors.
The spokesman added: ‘We are pleased to hear that Mr Duke has expanded his business in the area and we remain focused on turning the enterprise zone into a destination for local large and small businesses.’