HORRIFIED small traders have discovered that the Forest Court Shopping Precinct is to be demolished and replaced by a Sainsbury’s supermarket.
Damned by many local residents as a white elephant, the Dorridge precinct has borne the brunt of much criticism in recent years thanks to vacant premises and little trade.
But with the influx of new shops including Prom Misses, Jo Jo’s and Redcurrant Deli alongside established concerns like Dorridge Music School, the centre had seen an increase in business.
But now the small traders have learned that their shops are to be replaced by a Sainsbury’s supermarket in an ambitious plan which will see the precinct demolished and the nearby doctors surgery rebuilt. Susan Hartlett and Elaine Butler are partners of the popular Redcurrant Deli which provides fresh, home cooked food daily. Susan is horrified at the plans which traders only learned about earlier this week .
“We had a meeting with the Sainsbury’s representative who told us that they had bought the whole of Portfolio Investments, who had owned the precinct ,and they were representimg the new owners.
“He said a lot of leases here were finished or very short so a lot of people were willing to hand over their lease and close the door.
“But we have nine years left and we want to be in Dorridge. We’ve spent 18 months building up a fantastic business.
“We do things for dinner parties, we provide gluten free stuff and we are a coffee shop and meeting place.”
Jamie Cowen, Sainsbury’s Head of Property Development said: “Sainsbury’s is keen to come to Dorridge and has acquired a site in the village. We are currently working on our plans and looking to hold public consultation, including an exhibition, in early 2009. ”
The fate of the Forest Court precinct is a story is similar to that of Shirley where small traders have struggled against large supermarkets at either end of the Stratford Road. Many small businesses now fear that the Park Gate development could sound the end for many of their shops.