Shrewsbury Riverside Shopping Centre: ‘Panic’ after demolition remark
Shop owners have reacted with dismay to suggestions that Shrewsbury's Riverside Shopping Centre could be demolished.
Last week Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting, said it is likely the centre would be demolished to make way for a new development.
Ekbal Virdee, who owns the Meat Shack in Riverside, said the comments have caused panic in the centre.
"I only found out about it in the paper," he said. "I was shocked. I've spent my life savings on setting this place up so to see that the leader has suggested it could be demolished was awful. On Saturday I will have been here for a year and I have a three-year lease so I don't know what's going to happen.
"I employ six members of staff so they'd lose their job and I'd lose a lot of money. It's just disrespectful for Councillor Nutting to say something like that without speaking to any of the businesses. It's caused absolute chaos.
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"In the meantime I just hope people will still come down here and support the businesses because we are very much open."
The 32-year-old said he would be forced to move the business to Telford.
"They will lose me and a lot of other businesses and charities down here," he added. "We won't come back. We wouldn't be able to afford it."
Shropshire Council takes possession of the Riverside, and the Darwin and Pride Hill shopping centres on January 23, having concluded a multi-million pound deal to buy the sites.
Rita Wilkinson from Yellow Ribbon, a charity based in Riverside which supports people coming out of prison, said: "We're just hoping and praying that us being here is more long-term than is being suggested.
"We've put a lot of money into setting up here in this shop and we won't be able to to afford to come back if it's knocked down and re-built. The rates and rents would go up enormously. You just don't just refurbish something and keep prices the same. The council will have to be able to get their money back somehow.
"It's a shame because what we have down here is great. We've established something good for the community."
Shropshire Council said no decisions have been made on the future of Riverside.