In the firing line

THE owner of a pharmacy is concerned about the future of his business in light of a planned multi-million pound redev-elopment of a town centre and more than 1,000 customers have signed a petition against the proposals. The redevelopment of The Wynd and t

THE owner of a pharmacy is concerned about the future of his business in light of a planned multi-million pound redev-elopment of a town centre and more than 1,000 customers have signed a petition against the proposals.

The redevelopment of The Wynd and the street scene on Eastcheap and Leys Avenue in Letchworth GC is expected to begin this year, with a planning application for Arena Parade scheduled to be submitted shortly.

Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation's (LGCHF) plans for The Wynd include 23 ground floor shop units, 112 apartments, a children's play centre, a car park and a food store.

With regard to the street scene, plans include extending Leys Square to provide more space for markets and other events.

The Comet has previously reported concerns of business owners who will be affected by the plans and Tushar Shah, who has owned Moores Pharmacy on Leys Avenue for 21 years, is now worried the plans do not include retaining his pharmacy.

He said that when his head lease ended he negotiated a 15-year lease in October 2006 but, before it was signed, it was put on hold by the Foundation.

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Mr Shah said: "In February 2007, I was offered a new five-year lease with a three-month termination clause.

"I have now received a letter from the Foundation which states that if I do not sign the five-year lease by January 11, they will withdraw that lease and serve notice on me for vacant possession. They are coercing me into accepting their terms.

"We in the UK profess to live in a democratic society but the citizens of Letchworth seem to be living under a dictatorship."

He added: "In two weeks 1,024 customers have signed a petition to object to the Foundation's proposed plans and the way independent businesses are likely to be lost."

He also said: "The plans submitted by the Foundation do not reflect the traditional architectural style of the garden city.

"Letchworth GC is a conservation area and many of the buildings proposed for demolition date back to the early 1900s.

"Once this development is completed it will have hardly any history left."

Stuart Kenny, director general of LGCHF, said: "This is a private matter between landlord and tenant and as such is commercially confidential. Also, solicitors are involved. We are not in the business of discussing personal tenants' leases or their financial matters through the media.