Traders losing hope as Dolphin Square start date is pushed back - again

PUBLISHED: 09:00 12 May 2014

Artist's impression of the new Dolphin Square.

Artist's impression of the new Dolphin Square.

Archant

BUSINESSES surrounding the Dolphin Square building site say they are preparing to pack up because a lack of progress is 'destroying' their trade.

Developers McLaren Life told the Mercury building work to create a leisure and retail centre will begin in two months’ time - as long as legal agreements and design work is finalised.

This comes three years after planning permission was granted.

But owner of biker pub Scallys in Carlton Street, Dawn Coupe, said she is sick of being told new dates with no results and has put the watering hole up for sale.

She said: “All they (developers) keep saying is it is on target and it’s not, if it was then it would have been up by now.

“We were told it would start in September then November, then after Christmas, end of February, then April and now we have been told July.

“I have been here 21 years and it angers me to think that I have run a successful business and Dolphin Square is destroying that. It’s just not on.

“Dolphin Square needs access through it. It has been a building site for two summers.

“It’s going to be the nail in the coffin for a lot of businesses around here.”

McLaren Life launched the £45million scheme in October 2010 and expected a shopping centre and restaurants to be completed in spring last year.

St James Street trader Marshall McKee, who was originally based in Dolphin Square, told the Mercury he has had to sell his house and put the money back into his electrical store, and other shops in his street and Oxford Street are 40 per cent down.

McLaren Life spokesman Richard Evans said operators, which include Cineworld, a bowling alley, six restaurants, two small retail units and a gym, have their own specific designs and legal requirements, which has caused the scheme to be pushed back.

Ms Coupe said: “Three pubs in this area have been boarded up, which traded quite well when Dolphin Square was open. It’s obvious that is what is causing the problem.

“The café in St James Street is struggling and Darrell’s Butchers is looking for new premises away from here, as well as the bakers, and if they go there is nothing to go down the street for.

“I am looking to retire, but I am 20 per cent down because of Dolphin Square.

“I am not going to be able to sell until it is built and I will try and keep it as a bikers’ pub. But I do not know what is going to happen, I do not know if I can stay open until they say they are going to start.”

Ms Coupe also arranged a meeting with Weston town councillors Mike Bell and Clare Kingsbury-Bell to get support while she and other traders wait for building work to start.

Cllr Bell said: “It’s really disappointing that progress in the Dolphin Square development has been so slow.

“The way neighbouring traders have been treated has been disgraceful.

“They’ve been faced with months of construction and demolition disruption and now are left looking at a bomb site.

“We all want the new development to be a success, but the council and developers must get on with it and compensate traders fairly for the impact and delays.”

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