Save Old Mill Road Business Owners

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Plans have been uncovered that will involve the tearing down of 23 business units in Old Mill Road for a development that would include 100 new homes, with shops underneath.

Members of the community are desperate to stop the current trend of using commercial sites in Portishead for more housing. The town has already seen a massive housing explosion over the last decade and with no improvements to the infrastructure, schools bursting at the seams and very little parking, residents and business owners have had enough.

In 2014 Portishead town Councillors called for business sites to be protected after a paper mill that had operated in Portishead for more than 80 years relocated to make way for more new houses and developers were given permissions to convert a two storey office block in Harbour Crescent in to apartments but this seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Old Mill Road is one of Portishead’s oldest remaining commercial areas that is still prospering and the business owners have vowed to do all they can to protect their businesses and stop the town becoming a dormitory town.

Ryan Peake, who has four businesses in Old Mill Road, says while the traders are obviously trying to look after the investments they have made in their businesses over the years, they also want to protect jobs for their staff. He said: “Our businesses in Old Mill Road employ over 274 people, the majority of whom live in them town. On top of that, we are all independent businesses that support the community as a whole. This can be anything from advertising in local papers and community publications through to sponsorship of sports teams, charity events and school activities. Driving us out of town would affect far more people than the business owners and their staff. Portishead already has many uninhabited offices and retail units only suitable for small shops, cafes or offices, small units the height of a standard room just won't cut it for the kind of businesses we have in Old Mill Road. The entrepreneurs in Old Mill Road have not chosen to serve coffee all day, they have instead decided to offer a service which also allows employees to gain a life long skilled career, that can not be achieved from under apartments.”

Claire Cleeves, who owns The Fitness Hub Gym in two Old Mill Road units, said: “These plans go against so much set out in the national planning policy framework like building a strong, competitive economy, ensuring the vitality of town centers and promoting healthy communities; my gym is the biggest health and fitness facility in Portishead with over 1000 people using it on a regular basis.

"Already more than 100 Portishead residents, who are customers of the businesses in Old Mill Road have said they will support our campaign to stop more homes being build on business sites. We hope the whole town will support our campaign to help protect this part of Portishead which contributes so much to the local community.

The campaign has already enlisted the help of North Somerset Councillor Reyna Knight, whose ward includes Old Mill Road, but many fear that behind closed doors the deal has already been sealed.

Ryan added: “There are many people in Portishead who say North Somerset Councillors ride roughshod over the people who elected them and who they are supposed to be representing. Our situation is giving those Councillors an opportunity to show they are listening to their constituents and that they care about their communities. They need to defer any government directives in favour of securing the long term future of this great town .When one factors in, not only the extra vehicles on the road and the current employees relocating outside of Portishead for employment but the additional new home owners who will be commuting to and from Bristol ! You might as well say welcome to the Portbury hundred car park !!!

Campaigners invite members of the public to show their support by signing an online petition or calling in to The Fitness Hub or Ryan’s Rentals in Old Mill Road to sign the petition.

 



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