Shopkeepers need answers on future of town centre

Millie Mackintosh

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TRADERS are demanding not to be kept in the dark as a major redevelopment of Havant town centre is on the cards.

Lesley Petrie is one of the last independent traders in East Street, but is worried about the long-term future of her shop as several proposals are in the offing for new residential development in the historic thoroughfare.

As reported, property developer Peter Yeates has proposed to demolish a single-storey empty shop in East Street and replace it with a four-storey building of 11 apartments.

This development, at 9 East Street, could be the first of several run-down buildings to be redeveloped, with a phased scheme that includes the former Streets building all the way up to the Havant Club.

Mrs Petrie, who runs Jon’s Bits and Bobs wool shop, said: ‘All the little traders are in the same position.

‘You have a little shop and it pays the mortgage, the rent. But it’s disconcerting when you don’t know what’s happening.

‘I have customers coming in saying “We’ve heard you have moved”.’

She added: ‘We have a life. We need to know. I have got stock here and you have to gauge when you stop buying.’

Meanwhile, it’s all change in Market Parade.

The old Star pub has now been demolished and traders are planning to move out of the nearby building as the site is earmarked for a multi-million pound development.

Terry Jordan, chairman of Havant Business Association, said his Ink World shop would be relocating to the Meridian Centre in mid-August, along with Skoolkit.

Mr Jordan said there were mixed messages from developers and the council about the redevelopment. Work could start next year, he has been told.

Bill Rea, from Rowlands Castle, who owns the old Streets building in East Street, said: ‘It’s in the process of going through the planning consultations at the moment.

‘That will be developed at some stage. It’s been a long journey. It’s proved it’s not viable for retail. Residential is the only real option.’

Regarding independent shops, he added: ‘I think there’s no reason why they should not continue.

‘It can only strengthen their case, the fact there are fewer shops available. Generally they are really specific or unique shops and not available at the big supermarkets.’