SHOPKEEPERS have spoken of their shock after being told their leases will not renewed next year as a £15m revamp of Havant town centre gets under way.
Seven shops in Market Parade will lose their current premises. All the tenants have been told they will have to leave between May and October of next year.
It comes as entrepreneur Shaun Adams, from Southsea, is planning to regenerate the area next to the railway station with shops, apartments and restaurants.
Councillors voted last week to allow him to demolish the 163-year-old Star pub – which is at the back of the row of shops – and turn it into a temporary car park until the area is redeveloped.
Terry Jordan, chairman of Havant Business Association, said he was gutted that he would have to leave Market Parade, where his Ink World shop has enjoyed a thriving trade.
He said: ‘We are trying to stay in Havant.
‘If we can relocate in Havant then fantastic because we are established.
‘It would be a good thing for Havant if it all goes through, but it will be a bad thing for the retailer and consumer because they could lose little shops that are quite busy and popular.’
Mr Jordan spoke of his doubts that restaurants would be successful near the railway station.
But he added: ‘Hopefully it will be a scenario where we find somewhere in Havant and it will do what he thinks it’s going to – and prove me wrong – and Havant will become a vibrant town again.’
Other units affected include a schoolwear shop, an arcade, a mobility shop and a care provider.
The current shops will not be part of the new building.
Mr Adams, who runs Hampshire & Regional Property Group, said no development in Market Parade would happen until 2015 due to the lengthy planning process.
He is currently working up a formal planning application.
Other sections of Market Parade could eventually become part of the redevelopment.
He said: ‘We will do everything within our power to assist and help them identify new premises moving forward.
‘We are very sympathetic of the situation with the traders but we are not kicking anyone out.
‘Their leases are naturally coming to an end.’
He added: ‘We are not going to go for a half-baked attempt.
‘We understand the importance of this scheme for the future of Havant. We need to get that right.
‘We will work with the local stakeholders and authority to make sure we deliver the best possible scheme for the future of Havant.’
He said there would be no pubs or nightclubs in the new development.
‘We’re working hard to make sure we have the right occupiers which will benefit the scheme in the long term,’ he said.
‘We’re looking at a high-quality food and beverage solution. We are looking to raise the profile of Havant to add value to the town centre.’