A much-loved community cafe in Savick looks set to be demolished.Advertisement
Community Gateway Association is preparing to lodge plans for knocking down the Savick shops in Birkdale Drive.
Lynda Day, who runs the Lyn’s Lunch Box cafe, has been trading there for six years.
She said: “Not only are we devastated at the prospect of losing our family business that we have worked desperately hard for for six years to build up.
“We believe this will have a detrimental effect on the community as a whole, from the school children and families that come in to access affordable breakfasts and lunches to the elderly residents who sometimes, we will be the only faces they see day to day.”
Lyn claims she had been working with Community Gateway on ways to continue trading while the demolition and rebuilding of the shops and flats in Birkdale Drive took place.
But on Wednesday 1 May, Lyn says she and other premises on the block received notice to say their leases were not being renewed in August.
Lyn claims the only part of the current set up to be rebuilt will be Savick library.
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A petition has been set up to ‘Save Savick Shops’ and has amassed more than 600 signatures on the website Change.org.
Executive Director of Customers and Communities at Community Gateway Louise Mattinson said: “In 2017, in response to feedback from the community, Community Gateway began regenerating the area around Savick shops. The first phase included the development of 6 new homes on the site of the former Savick pub.
“Phase 2 of the scheme includes the redevelopment of the maisonettes and shops on West Park Avenue. These properties are outdated, unsightly and are a magnet for anti-social behaviour, resulting in half of the shops being empty with no new businesses interested in taking up a lease.
“However we listened to the community’s concerns around the impact to residents regarding the loss of the library and shops, and so we worked with local residents, councillors and remaining business owners to develop plans which included a commitment from Community Gateway to build a brand new library and four shop units to accommodate the remaining businesses.
“We agreed that we would provide the new units at below market rents to ensure the viability of the businesses for the benefit of the community.
“Initially, all the business owners were supportive of these plans, which would have included the provision of high-quality, fully serviced temporary accommodation to allow the businesses to continue to operate whilst the demolition and building works were completed. This would have required significant investment from Community Gateway, but we believed that the cost was worth it to enable the businesses to continue trading.
“Disappointingly a number of the business owners have since changed their minds, and we now have only one business owner who has confirmed that they would like to enter into a new lease. Sadly, this means that it is no longer viable for us to continue with our plans to invest in the building of a number of new shops when there is no evidence to suggest that they could be let.
“Whilst we understand the café owners would like to enter into a lease on a new unit, the provision of temporary accommodation is only feasible if a majority of business owners are in agreement.
“It was always our intention to replace the library and shop units and we share the community’s disappointment that there is insufficient interest from business owners to make this possible. However we can confirm that we are continuing with our plans to provide a new purpose built library which will benefit the community for many years to come.”
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Lea and Larches councillor David Borrow said: “Jenny Mein, Phil Crowe and I have met with local residents over the last few days and we are in no doubt that they value having shops on the Savick estate.
“We have seen the Gateway statement and they have agreed to meet us later this week.
“We will do all we can to find a solution that retains some shops on the Savick estate.”