One of Ruddington’s less well known retail areas is set to be demolished for housing – after the owner revealed the site has been running at a loss. It seems the Coronavirus outbreak finally sealed its fate!
Eight separate businesses are currently being accommodated in the tucked away courtyard at the far end of Kempson Street – created almost ten years ago in an L-shaped block of units that were originally intended to be used as workshops. However, some of these have since been refurbished and let out as both offices and for retail use instead.
Now an application has been submitted to Rushcliffe Borough Council on behalf of landowner Barnaby Kent to knock down the existing building and put new housing in its place. The plans drawn up by Williams Architects Ltd are for the construction of a terrace of four new residential properties: two two-bedroomed homes and two three-bedroomed homes. The site has previously had planning permission for one, larger dwelling.
The Supporting Statement with the application says that, despite the refurbishment, there has since been little demand for the intended use of the existing building: “The units are currently used to house a hair salon, car finding business, occasional office/storage for a small building contractor and small business office.” It continues: “Due to current parking restrictions on site, the 5th unit is currently not let out commercially and is used as a store by the applicant. If the units are to continue to be used as office/salon space then they will require further upgrading and ongoing maintenance. The applicant is currently making a loss on the site due to the units not being used as envisaged.” It adds: “The applicant has undertaken discussions with local estate agents and has ascertained that the site would become viable if it was used for two and three-bedroom homes, for which there is a strong demand locally.”
The full planning application with supporting documents can be viewed >>HERE<<.
Three months’ notice has been served on the current occupants by H & C Rentals, which has been managing the property. Barney Coombes from the company says: “I do feel for the businesses affected. That includes us – as we rent the units out” he explains. “But Mr Kent feels his money would be better invested elsewhere in the village. He is a Director at Ideagen PLC and also owns the Frame Breakers‘ pub. We hope all our tenants will be able to find other premises in the village – and we will try to help out with an extension beyond the end of August if any of them need it.”
However, Natasha Dorey is not happy. Her business The Treatment Room moved into Hidden Salon just last year to join business owner Natasha Curley (who’s an eyelash technician) and hairdresser Michelle Molloy. “When I moved in I was told by Natasha (Curley) that there were two years left on the lease and anytime after that was subject to reapplication” explains Natasha. “With that in mind I invested heavily on furniture and equipment to fit the working space to ensure my clients had the best possible experience. As no-one could have predicted the pandemic we closed according to government instruction, with notice on the lease being served during this time. As all other businesses were in lockdown it paved the way for great uncertainty and no real way of moving forward leaving the three of us in turmoil.”
She adds: “At a time when you’d expect people and businesses to pull together I felt it morally unethical that the notice was served to us at this time. We now have the premises until the end of August of which the last two weeks will be spent clearing the building.”
Michelle agrees: “That’s 13 people now having to look for new premises – and some are having to leave the village, which is terrible. Natasha Curley who owns Hidden Salon is devastated as she has used all her savings to produce an amazing Salon and was in for the long run has now lost everything after only two years” reveals Michelle. “It’s been extremely stressful with everything else going on, really inconsiderate timing on the part of Barney. I’m sure he could have given us at least 6 months notice not 3 when we weren’t even in the unit to be able to earn money. In Hidden we have now eventually found places of work, but not together, which is also devastating!”
Jen Walker, who runs her famous Split Screen Coffee business from the site, says: “I am a new business to Kempson Court and have only been there since February but had big plans. The news that five successful businesses are to be evicted to make way for housing has been a kick in the teeth when most of us were already reeling from the effects of COVID-19 and lockdown. I do hope that people continue to make the effort to support their local economy as small businesses are the heart of this nation employing more than 60% of the work force. We will continue to see a decline of our eclectic mix of businesses if wealth is continued to be extracted out.”
Cllr Mike Gaunt, who serves on both Ruddington Parish Council and Rushcliffe Borough Council, comments: “From the perspective of Ruddington this would be quite a considerable loss to the community. The loss of 5 vibrant businesses from our village centre and the subsequent demolition of 5 retail units could have a negative economic impact over the long term as future businesses are forced to locate in other communities.”
However, Barnaby Kent says his proposed development should not be viewed as negative for Ruddington: “The five business premises are not fully occupied, not on the High Street, and with no real parking, yet will provide much needed housing.” His application also points out that Kempson Court was never allocated employment use and states the loss of these units will not be detrimental to our village: “There are considerable other opportunities for businesses in the vicinity of the High Street, Ruddington. Several units are currently empty and awaiting new occupants, whilst the construction of 6 new small retail and office units is underway at land adjacent to no. 2 High Street. In addition, a long-empty unit at 7-9 High Street has recently gained permission to be replaced with a new building incorporating retail and office space. These new units are better placed for passing trade and will be more suitable as premises for the kinds of small businesses that currently make use of Kempson Court.”
Nikki Senior, Managing Director of Hey Baby 4D Limited, doesn’t think the tenants have been treated unfairly: “The last few months have been extremely tough on all businesses and our landlords are no exception” she says. “They wouldn’t have ended the lease with their tenants if they had any choice. It’s inconvenient of course, but their business is going to suffer significantly as a result of this and I think that’s easy to forget. They gave us 3 months’ notice and treated us extremely fairly both through the lockdown and thereafter.” However, Nikki admits: “We are currently finalising the details on a new office, but don’t have anything secured as yet.” So if you know anywhere suitable for Nikki’s baby ultrasound company she’d love to hear from you.
Some of the ‘evicted’ businesses have already found alternative premises within Ruddington: National Car Finder will move to the car showroom on Easthorpe Street at the end of August – although owner Jon Lee emphasises there will be no vehicles on display. Their business model of sourcing cars and vans on demand for customers will continue as before. Michelle Molloy will be taking over 13, High Street with her hairdressing business Artisan Hair & Beauty, and hopes to be up and running by the end of August. Natasha Dorey reveals that The Treatment Room will be joining forces with Beauty Works by Lauren within the new shopping mall on High Street (between The Bottle Top and Philo’s Deli) at the beginning of September. RUDDINGTON.info has yet to hear from ARC Group, which is also set to lose its premises.
Meantime, if you’d like to comment on the planning application for Kempson Court, you can do so >>HERE<< by the deadline of Thursday 30th July 2020.