TRADERS risk losing their livelihoods after being forced to move to make room for new retirement apartments.
Five small businesses must relocate and a 150-year-old former vicarage will be demolished as part of the development in Purbrook.
Planning permission has been granted to build 42 retirement flats, including communal facilities, parking and two shops at 38 to 44 London Road, Purbrook.
Currently, trading on the site are a builder’s merchant, an MoT garage, a tyre repair centre, a car sales business and a motorbike repair centre.
All five businesses will be forced out of their buildings, and may face permanent closure if they cannot find a new home.
Landlords will sell the sites to the developers, who plan on demolishing the buildings for the redevelopment.
One affected business is Purbrook Garage Services, which has been operating at the site for more than 40 years.
Owners John and Vikki Coventry have been running the garage for 10 years and are worried the family-run business will have to close if they cannot find new premises, meaning six people may lose their jobs.
Angry Mr Coventry said: ‘I cannot find anywhere else to go at the moment. We’ve been left in the lurch. I just don’t know what to do. It’s my livelihood and it’s being taken away.
‘It’s going to affect so many people, not just me. There are so many loyal customers and residents who rely on these local businesses.
‘I don’t see why they need to build the apartments here in Purbrook because without these businesses Purbrook will be a ghost town.’
Also being forced out is Michael Dixon who has run Purbrook Tyres for five years.
Mr Dixon, who employs three people, said: ‘It’s too little too late.
‘I’ve not found anywhere to go and I’ve heard nothing from the landlords.
‘Purbrook will lose so much in revenue too because of the loss of businesses.
‘If we can find somewhere to go I’d be happy to move but at the moment I don’t know what to do.’
The planning application was originally refused by Havant Borough in 2015 after many residents responded with disapproval because of the risk to local jobs, access issues, and loss of local heritage.
But developer McCarthy & Stone appealed the decision to the Secretary of State and a government inspector approved the appeal last week.
Councillor David Guest, who heads planning, said: ‘All planning applicants have the right to appeal the decision of the council.
‘We are disappointed to lose a local business premises, but we must accept the decision of the planning inspector.’
A spokesman for McCarthy & Stone said: ‘We are delighted with the result of the appeal, and that the need for this form of accommodation for local older people has been recognised by the inspector.’