1,000 jobs ‘at risk’ as homes plan re­vealed

FEARS OF BOSSES ON IN­DUS­TRIAL ES­TATE AS SITE OWN­ERS SAY A BUILDER HAS SHOWN IN­TER­EST IN DE­VEL­OP­ING SITE

Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By DA­MON WILKIN­SON and NICK STATHAM

BUSI­NESS own­ers fear for their liveli­hoods af­ter a letter re­vealed plans to sell off an in­dus­trial es­tate for up to 260 new homes.

Bosses at Field­house In­dus­trial Es­tate, in Rochdale, say as many as 1,000 jobs could be lost if the scheme goes ahead. Firms had their worst fears re­alised when land­lord BizS­pace

wrote to them con­firm­ing plans to re­de­velop the site were be­ing ‘ex­plored.’ A letter to around 70 busi­nesses says a house­builder has shown in­ter­est in buy­ing the site - off Whit­worth Road, Syke - and ‘con­vert­ing it for res­i­den­tial use.’

It stresses the proposal is ‘ab­so­lutely not a done deal’ and would be sub­ject to plan­ning con­sent. But bosses’ anx­i­ety deep­ened af­ter they dis­cov­ered BizS­pace had set out more de­tailed pro­pos­als in re­sponse to the lat­est Greater Manch­ester Spa­tial Frame­work con­sul­ta­tion.

Com­pa­nies based at the in­dus­trial es­tate say any such move would come as a crush­ing blow and many would strug­gle to re­lo­cate. Dave McCann, who owns Pi­o­neer Gas Ltd, said “The im­pact fi­nan­cially is go­ing to be astronomic­al.

“There’s nowhere to move to, and then there’s the cost of mov­ing, which is ob­vi­ously ex­tor­tion­ate.” Rochdale coun­cil wants at least 460 homes to be built in the bor­ough ev­ery year, to en­sure hous­ing sup­ply is meet­ing de­mand. It is also com­mit­ted to de­vel­op­ing on brown­field sites where pos­si­ble.

Mr McCann says busi­nesses would fight plans for hous­ing but felt they would be up against the odds. He said: “We are go­ing to fight it, but I’m not a so­lic­i­tor, I’m a mo­tor me­chanic.” A spokesper­son for BizS­pace con­firmed busi­nesses had been made aware that plans were un­der con­sid­er­a­tion. He said: “We will up­date them when there is any firm news.

“What­ever the out­come, we are com­mit­ted to sup­port­ing our small busi­ness cus­tomers, treat­ing them fairly and help­ing them con­tinue to op­er­ate and grow their busi­nesses,” he said.

Some of the busi­ness own­ers and staff who work on the in­dus­trial es­tate

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