RETAILERS in a town centre have begun to agree on new premises for their businesses in order to make way for a 264-flat tower block.
Traders in Wellington Way, Waterlooville, will have to relocate should plans for the nine-storey building be approved by Havant Borough Council.
One business owner yet to make a decision about where to move said he was worried about the future of his business, but understood the scheme could benefit the town.
Andy Price, of Waterlooville Fruiterers, said: ‘It’s difficult for me to know what to do because the concern for me as a greengrocer is having a unit that allows me to have a good display out front.
‘I need people to be able to walk by, see what’s on offer and make a spur-of-the-moment decision to buy.
‘We really rely on that footfall. I have spoken to the site owners about units which could suit my business, but they are quite big, and if the running costs are significantly higher than what they are now for us, we’d be priced out.
‘I am worried about the future of my business, but with how dominant online shopping is now all the empty units here are never going to be filled up anyway.
‘It would appear the choice is to live with an area of dilapidated shops or to try and do something about that.’
Mr Price is looking at taking Unit 31, formerly Thy’s Nail Studio, near where he is based now. Part of Wellington Way would need to be demolished to make way for the nine-storey tower block.
The News reported last month that more than 165 objections had been lodged against the plans. Since then nine more objections have been lodged and one pledge of support.
Giles Morse, the owner of Westbrook Properties, which owns the site, said: ‘Charity shop Stella’s Voice will be taking Unit 28, formerly Inflorescence.
‘Sue Ryder is discussing a move to the former Pampered Pets shop, Unit 95A on London Road. Mann Countrywide will likely go back into the new development in a unit in the same position as their current unit.’
Havant Borough Council said because of the complex nature of the application, it is expected to take longer to determine than is usual.