PLANS for a £15million overhaul of Weymouth’s Brewers Quay, including an 85-bed hotel and wet weather attraction, have been revealed.
The applicants hope to have planning permission for the revamp by January and to have finished the work in time for the Olympics.
But leaseholders fear revised rents at the remodelled attraction could be too high for them and many expect they will have to relocate.
Nikki Davies of printers Wowz on Canvas, who has been there for two and a half years, said: “Anything that develops the area is going to be a good thing but I think it’s really important to keep something that’s unique to Weymouth and that has a mix of smaller businesses like mine and larger ones who pay reasonable rents in this tourist area.
“If the place is going to be out-priced so that only high street traders can afford to come here that won’t be good as far as I’m concerned.”
Colin Cole of the Art Corner, who has been at the quay for seven months, said: “Everything’s up in the air and we’re only hearing bits and bobs at the moment.
“At the moment, I’ve been told I’ve got to be out by December 31.
“I’m not happy about it and I’ve got to find a new location.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment.”
Dave Evans, who owns a business carving wooden jigsaws and names, said: “Soon there’ll be nowhere in Weymouth with low-cost rents.
“In respect of Brewers Quay being revamped I’m ambivalent about it and it’s probably gong to be a building site during the Olympics and that won’t benefit everyone.
“I’ll probably look for another town to trade from.
“I don’t need to be in Weymouth if it wants to kill itself.”
Brewers Quay partner Chris McDougall said: “We’re in discussions with two hotel operators at the moment but we haven’t agreed terms with anyone.
“We should have more news on that in the new year.
“If we’re lucky enough to get planning permission approved in January then we’re going to look to get the work done in 12 to 15 months.
“We plan to have the work done for the Olympics but we’re pushing that deadline and we wouldn’t want to have a building full of scaffolding while the Games are on.”
He added: “Every existing tenant will be offered a place and will have the first refusal.
“The commercial reality is that some of them probably won’t be able to afford the rents but some of them will.
“The rents will not be that much higher than they are now.
“I’ve tried to tell the existing tenants that they will all be welcome back.
“Brewers Quay is ripe for development and there’s been a lot of investment in Weymouth recently.”
Mr McDougall denied that discussions are going on to introduce a Tesco Express store at the site.
The Brewers Quay plans
THE plans for the site include a revamp of Weymouth museum with a new layout featuring a ‘chronological presentation’ on the area’s history.
Brewers Quay also wants to create a 125sq metre display space and a 171sq metre wet-weather attraction managed by the museum that would be ‘similar to the Discovery Centre’.
Plans also include an 85-bed hotel, accessible from Newberry Gardens, including a restaurant and bar with ‘interior design utilising the historic features of the brewery.
The planned work includes space for 12 shops for national and independent retailers, three restaurants or cafes and two other retail units.
There could also be a new pub/restaurant, a restaurant, eight residential apartments and five holiday apartments. The applicants hope the ‘key benefits’ of the revamp could include ‘the creation of approximately 149 full-time equivalent jobs, a net increase of approximately 71 full-time equivalent positions’ and an ‘enhanced profile for a part of the town centre which is outside of the main retail core’.
The regeneration project is predicted to cost £15million, including £8million building costs.