Traders at a small Chester business park are anxious for the future after the site owners revealed they intend to convert the units into homes.
Mollington Grange Business Park off Parkgate Road, is the base for businesses including Mococo jewellery, Bespoke Brides, John Woods Motorcare and Bianca Trading wine merchants.
The Oak Grange Care Home is located next to the business park but is unaffected.
Part of the park is owned by William Wild & Son, run by Christopher Wade, and the rest by leaseholders Bell Developments with both firms based on site.
Other tenants include Mark Gillette Interior Design, Eureka Cycles Ltd, Design & Print@Ras Limited, Dawn’s Soft Furnishings and Classic Curtains and Bratherton Park Design Consultants.
Tenants have been told about the proposed conversion to residential but the timing over when companies must move out is dependent on their individual tenancy agreements. At least two tenants are seeking legal advice.
The Chronicle understands Boutique Hair and Beauty Salon is unaffected at the moment although this has not been confirmed by the landlords.
Mike Bell, a director at Bell, who is heading up the project, said: “We do intend to convert the offices into residential. The units will be two and three bed mews houses which will be sold on the open market. We see it as a semi rural high quality development.”
Mr Bell said rumours some tenants had only been given ‘a month’s notice’ were incorrect, adding: “We are working with the tenants to try and find suitable relocations.”
He said any tenants who had recently spent money fitting out their premises would be compensated.
Mr Bell commented the earliest work could start on the conversion was July. Planning consent was unnecessary, he said, as the exteriors would remain unaltered and the matter would be dealt with under permitted development.
There was a possibility the scheme might be ‘mixed use’ with existing businesses which complemented the housing scheme being allowed to stay.
Mr Bell continued: “It would be more like a fit-out exercise, taking stuff out, putting some partition walls in and converting the properties into nice little courtyard developments.”
He said no parking would be allowed in The Courtyard area which would be turned into a garden.
Mr Bell scotched talk of there being a hidden agenda to resurrect the controversial student village scheme. Bell’s plans for 2,300-bed student village on green belt land between Blacon and Mollington were rejected in 2013 following a community campaign.
“The student village is the last thing on my mind!” said Mr Bell, whose company also runs the Footgolf attraction on a field next to the business park.
Several tenants have told The Chronicle they are ‘shocked’ at the news but uncomfortable about speaking publicly.
However, Danielle Harley, who runs Danielle’s Dance and Theatre School, is looking on the bright side and viewing what has happened as ‘an opportunity’ to grow the business.
She said: “As my clients know, I see the positive in everything. I’ve had a fantastic time and invested a lot of time and financially a lot of money. I’ve put it together single-handedly but I’ve got plans to make things even better in a new venue. I’m looking around but nothing is confirmed.”
Danielle told customers she has up to a year left in the studios and party rooms. She praised Chris Wade as ‘the most supportive landlord’ saying he had been ‘fantastic’.