Telford traders furious over plans that could see 'shop replaced by a tree'

Traders in Oakengates say they have been kept in the dark about redevelopment plans that could lead to the demolition of some of their shops - with one saying her shop will be replaced by a tree.

'My business will be replaced by a tree' - Pauline Jackson
'My business will be replaced by a tree' - Pauline Jackson

Telford & Wrekin Council statements saying that multi-million pound plans to regenerate Oakengates Town Centre - announced at the end of June - were the result of two years of consultation were denied by traders who also live in the area.

The proposals are to redevelop what is being called Oakengates Theatre Quarter. It is part of a £22.3 million proposals to deliver Telford’s Town Investment Plan consisting of three projects - Oakengates Station Quarter, the Oakengates Theatre Quarter and the Wellington Conservation Area - to be delivered over five years.

The council is the landlord of the shops at the busy parade near The Place Theatre.

The Limes Walk area in Oakengates

A petition has been created online and on paper. At Community Help, which Pauline Jackson, 56, has run for 12 years, there is a seven-page Save Our Shops petition containing hundreds of names.

Ms Jackson said neither she nor her loyal and local customers had heard anything about it until a public exhibition in June.

The plans include the removal of retail properties fronting Market Street, to create an “attractive flexible events space” and for retail units to ‘spill out’ into.

Pauline Jackson from Community Help

The storage and upstairs trading areas of other businesses would be taken to provide up to 10 new first floor one- and two-bed properties for rent through the council’s housing company, Nuplace. Other units would have their canopies removed and shops ‘reconfigured’ to provide a “wider retail offer and improved town centre footfall and spend”.

Ms Jackson said: “My business will be replaced by a tree,” she said. “We are going to do what we can to stop this because it is what the people of Oakengates want.”

She said she has not been given an option of going to another unit.

A petition sits on Ms Jackson’s shop counter and on Friday afternoon the Save the Oakengates Shops has gathered seven pages of names. She added that no-one knew of the plans.

LAST COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR STEVE LEATH 08/07/2022..Pic in Oakengates of business on and around the Limes Walk area, where there are proposals to demolish one building and turn other business's upstairs rooms into flats. Rob Saxon from Some'Ink Different..

Tattooist Rob Saxon, 46, has owned Some' Ink Different, in Lime Walk, for nine years. He said: "I live in Oakengates too and the first I heard of it was six hours before it went public, not two years."

Under the plans, Mr Saxon says his upstairs salon would be lost to a new flat.

LAST COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR STEVE LEATH 08/07/2022..Pic in Oakengates of business on and around the Limes Walk area, where there are proposals to demolish one building and turn other business's upstairs rooms into flats. Tracey Moseley from Nutcrackers Salon..

Tracey Moseley, 57, of Nutcrackers Salon, has been in business in Oakengates since 1993. She has 400 clients each week and under the proposals her hugely successful salon would be flattened to make way for open space.

Miss Moseley claimed the council, as landlord, has neglected the business units and is now using an argument that it looks a mess to justify making the changes.

She said she has been offered a new unit to trade from but has yet to find out the details. And she is getting so angered by the sound of council silence that she has given an ultimatum.

“I’ve invited them to come to the salon on July 27 and explain it to me on the premises,” she said.

“When I started in this building I had just the bricks and invested £100,000 and it is not an easy thing to change where you have a business without knowing all the options.

“The mayor wanted to hand me a Pride in the High Street Award but I turned them down,” she said.

LAST COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR STEVE LEATH 08/07/2022..Pic in Oakengates of business on and around the Limes Walk area, where there are proposals to demolish one building and turn other business's upstairs rooms into flats. Christine Orford from Christines Florists..

Christine Orford, aged 63, of Christine's Florist, is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce. Her business is not directly affected by the plans. But her 43 members are 'disgusted' by the proposals.

She said: “It’s scandalous, we want it stopping. It is disgusting, they are successful businesses that bring people into Oakengates.”

Her business isn’t in the firing line but would be hit by roadworks and construction, she said.

Mrs Orford added: “I heard rumours of something happening 12 months but we have heard nothing and have launched an online petition and in the shops. They wanted to knock them down 10 years ago but we stopped it last time.

“If they want to spend £3 million in Oakengates there are lots of derelict sites they could do something about. We will be doing our best to fight it.”

The Limes Walk area in Oakengates

A council spokesman said: “We’ve got a huge opportunity to invest in Oakengates and make it an attractive, thriving place that people want to use and visit.

“The proposed plans result from what the public have told us they want to see: more inviting public spaces, investment into the theatre and a more varied shopping experience.

“The current consultation is running so that we can hear the views of businesses and residents on the plans drawn up to reflect those priorities.

“As part of this, there have been individual meetings with businesses and an in-person consultation event held only a few weeks ago. The online consultation remains open until July 15.”

The online consultation can be found at telfordtownsfund.co.uk/info/5/get-involved

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