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'Daylight robbery': Businesses launch petition against Bridge Close development proposals

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 November 2019

The Bridge Close Business Alliance protesting against Havering's plans for the Bridge Close development. Pictue: BCBA

The Bridge Close Business Alliance protesting against Havering's plans for the Bridge Close development. Pictue: BCBA

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Romford businesses have launched a petition opposing a housing development which they claim will force them to move out of the area.

An artist's impression of what the finished River Rom could look like at Bridge Close. Photo: Havering CouncilAn artist's impression of what the finished River Rom could look like at Bridge Close. Photo: Havering Council

Havering Council is set to make a decision this month about the plans to demolish Bridge Close and build a new housing development with more than 1,000 homes.

The development is expected to include a primary school and medical centre.

Business owners from the Bridge Close Business Alliance (BCBA) launched a petition opposing the development on the grounds that the council has not provided enough support to ensure that Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) don't result in permanent closure.

Under the CPO rules, the businesses are obliged to find their own properties and purchase them.

The Bridge Close development area. Picture: Laura Caicedo Lopez.The Bridge Close development area. Picture: Laura Caicedo Lopez.

According to BCBA, if they cannot find or fund a property prior to the making of the CPO, they must abandon their offices, factories and any fixed machinery.

Their petition states: "In the shadow of CPO we are running our businesses in an incredibly hostile environment."

Julia Herold works with AC Preou, a heating, ventilating and air-conditioning company which has resided in Bridge Close since 1986.

She told the Recorder: "We, that is Preou are in the same position as other Bridge Close businesses, places of worship and leaseholders who have not received the support promised by the council including their finding us a relocation property.

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"We haven't been offered a fair price for our property as they won't pay true market value, and we recently found out that they can even take our parking and yards for free as they're not an internal structure.

"It's daylight robbery which the council has been working towards since before 2008.

"It's heart breaking and exhausting."

Businesses operating in the area want to make sure that residents are aware that they're not just retail outlets but specialised service providers.

The BCBA group includes the family-run meat processing and catering company, Romford Catering Supplies, and Griffin Elevators, a business that employs local trainees and apprentices to work in lift installation and repair.

Havering Council said it was committed to continue working with all parties affected by the regeneration plans in order to "minimise disruption as much as possible".

A spokeswoman said: "We have met with every business owner, on several occasions over the past two years, to update them on the progress of the Bridge Close project and to discuss their wider plans for their businesses.

"Every business has also received the offer of independent advice, paid for by the council and its joint venture partners, to assist them with understanding their rights and gain independent advice on property matters, including compulsory purchase regulation, property valuation (which is at market value), and their entitlement to further compensation.

"Where possible, we are exploring opportunities to relocate some existing businesses onsite - as new fit-for-purpose office accommodation will form part of the development at Bridge Close.

"In other instances, if businesses are required to relocate off-site we are working with the owners to help find alternative premises."

Visit ipetitions.com/petition/the-bridge-close-redevelopment- to find out more about the BCBA petition.

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