Small firms left in turmoil over shock decision to close business park

Photo Neil Cross
South Ribble Enterprise Park, Edward Street, Walton-le-Dale
Photo Neil Cross South Ribble Enterprise Park, Edward Street, Walton-le-Dale

Devastated small business owners say they have been left in turmoil following a shock decision to close an enterprise park.

South Ribble Enterprise Park in Walton-le-Dale, near Preston, is home to start-up businesses striving to get established.

The cost of finding somewhere else is going to lie heavily on their resources.

But the business tenants have been dealt a blow over the lease and will have to move out. The park, on Edward Street, was opened by Prince Charles in 1989.

South Ribble Development Company, a subsidiary of the Leyland-based Orvia group - a not-for-profit business support organisation - has held the lease on the park for 10 years. The whole site on which the park stands is owned by Patrick Burling Developments Ltd.

John McCann, who runs Lancashire Environmental Services on the park, said there was no warning or consultation, with tenants only getting a phone call and letter.

Mr McCann said: “The small businesses, some who have invested for years in their operations, are left with egg on their faces with nowhere to go.

“The cost of finding somewhere else is going to lie heavily on their resources.”

Orvia group director Kevin Clark said: “South Ribble Development Ltd has had a longstanding lease on South Ribble Enterprise Park, during which time we have had the benefit of a special leasing arrangement, which has been significantly below the genuine market value.

“The rental terms provided have been based on monthly easy in and out arrangements at inexpensive rates, designed to enable businesses to start-up and move on.

“Our current lease is due for renewal on April 1, 2018 when the current arrangements come to an end. We have therefore regrettably informed our existing tenants of the situation in order to give them as much time as possible to find alternative accommodation.”

South Ribble Borough Council said it would help tenants find new premises if they get in touch with them.

Alan Welsh, policy manager at the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This is a devastating blow for the Enterprise Park business tenants and we empathise with the position that they find themselves in.

“However, SRDC have endeavoured to give tenants a reasonable amount of time to find new accommodation and we would call on Lancashire County Council to offer as much as support as possible to those affected.”