'The council don't have our interests at heart' - business park billed as proof of town's 'bright future' sits half empty
PUBLISHED: 14:31 19 March 2019 | UPDATED: 14:47 19 March 2019
A company owner has voiced his frustration at the apparent lack of progress in filling a host of unoccupied business units.
Ian Thompson and his tyre fitting company, Treadz, took residence at the regenerated Phoenix Enterprise Park following its opening in October last year.
Situated on South Lowestoft Industrial Estate, it was billed as proof of Suffolk County Council’s “commitment to regeneration” and was supposed to demonstrate the town’s “bright future”.
But five months after the Phoenix rose from the ashes of the Wessex Foods factory fire, only half of the facility’s units have tenants - with just two in the inner courtyard where Treadz resides.
“When we first enquired about the units in April 2017, we were told this was going to be a bustling hub of business and there was a queue of companies lining up to fill them,” said Mr Thompson, from Carlton Colville.
“Fast forward to 2019 and we are still the only business in the inner courtyard aside from one other, where there is barely any activity.
“All the small units near the entrance are taken but that doesn’t do us any favours. They’re not nine to five businesses, either - some of them are just used for storage.”
To generate interest in the park and company, Treadz will be hosting a ‘Cars and Coffee Morning’ from 9am on Sunday, April 7, with Damon Hill’s old Formula 1 car among the attractions.
Mr Thompson, 38, hopes the event can act as a catalyst for the growth of the park.
“All I want to see is these units pro-actively advertised,” he added. “Some banners on the outside of the buildings would do because there is nothing to say they are available.
“At the moment, the lack of advertising shows the council don’t have our business interests at heart.
“This is the part of Lowestoft that’s really growing at the moment, so why not make the most of the potential? It has been very frustrating and we do feel quite aggrieved.”
A council spokesman said: “Over the last couple of months we have seen more units being taken by eager tenants on site.
“Eight units are occupied and we have strong interest from other potential tenants. Our site marketing agent continues to actively promote the benefits of the site to new businesses.
“As the business park has only recently become fully available, some interested businesses may have current leases elsewhere that they must conclude before relocating.
“As part of the site offer, businesses that move to the park by April 1, 2020, an apply for rate relief over a three-year period.”