TRADERS say they fear for their future because shoppers have deserted their businesses.
They claim Christmas is ‘not going to happen’ in the Hope Square and harbourside areas of Weymouth because Brewers Quay remains shut for business.
Work on the Victorian brewery’s £15million overhaul has still to get underway but tenants were asked to leave by the end of last year.
Planning permission was secured in January but the site has remained dormant.
When plans were initially unveiled for the redevelopment – which includes a hotel, flats, a wet weather tourist attraction, shops and restaurants – it was indicated it would be ready by next summer’s Olympics.
But now it is understood it will not be ready until at least the end of next year.
Nearby traders say they are expecting business to be poor in the run-up to Christmas.
Geoff Tizzard-King, co-owner of The T Shop on the harbourside, said his tearoom was only open for four days a week instead of five because it has become so quiet.
He said: “Christmas isn’t going to happen this time around. It’s going to be a miserable Christmas.
“We used to depend on coach-loads of people going to Brewers Quay who would go Christmas shopping then amble around to the harbourside.
“Even the locals aren’t coming here. This time of year they would normally be going down to Brewers Quay to get Christmas presents from niche shops.
“We’ve lost passing trade. A member of staff who we used to have all year round, we now can’t afford to pay until March.
“We very much doubt we will open up for January and February.”
Former Brewers Quay trader Pauline Bolt, co-owner of Pauline’s Patchwork and Quilting Supplies, has now moved her business to Poundbury.
She said: “I was at Brewers Quay for 18 years. We could have still been there now.
“But we love it in Poundbury and we’re not going back. It’s a great shame for Weymouth to lose something like that.”
Carole Pinches, of harbourside gift shop Finishing Touches, said business was very quiet in the run-up to Christmas.
“Footfall is very much down. People in town are telling visitors Brewers Quay is closed so it’s not worth coming.”
Rosie Farnworth, manager of the Crow’s Nest bistro, said: “There’s nothing going on at Brewers Quay and it has affected us.
“We’re open seven days a week and we’re going to see what happens.”
Pub manager Jo Evans, of the Kings Arms, said: “It has gone quiet during the day for us now.
“We would normally get Christmas shoppers and some of the people who worked there stopping in for a drink.”
Phil Cox, owner of the Londis Harbour Stores, said footfall was down in the area.
He added: “It would be nice to know what’s happening with Brewers Quay because traders are very concerned about whether it’s going to go ahead.
“This side of town is very, very quiet but luckily we have increased our local trade.”
‘SUDDENLY IT WILL SPRING TO LIFE’ SAY OWNERS
WEYMOUTH Museum, which is funded and managed by Brewers Quay, will stay in the new facilities although it will be relocated temporarily when building work starts.
The delays are to do with this relocation and structural work inside the building.
Alistair Ross, director of Brewers Quay owners Brewers Quay Investments LLP, said he would expect discussions about the building to be resolved this side of Christmas and that an announcement would be made soon.
He added that structural engineers had been working inside the building He said: “It’s an extremely complex building and various elements have taken some time to discuss.
“We are resolving the relocation of the museum.
“We’ve only got one chance to make it right and we want to make sure that we do.
“There are no funding issues whatsoever.
“We are committed to the building and to Weymouth.
“There’s no doubt about that at all – suddenly it will spring into life.”
Roger Dalton, of Roger Dalton Associates, which is closely involved with the redevelopment, said it was ‘too delicate’ to discuss the timeline for the building in any more detail because deals are being finalised.
“We all share the frustration of the traders at this time but we are close to finalising a deal.”
• HARBOURSIDE area councillor John Birtwistle, left, said he was ‘really worried’ about the situation.
“That side of the harbour is dying.
“I’m worried about it because I think the people who have taken on Brewers Quay may have bitten off more than they can chew.
“I think they were far too hasty in getting rid of the sitting tenants.
“People used to come from miles away to get their Christmas shopping from Brewers Quay.
“I’m worried that we’re going to end up with a derelict site which is going to kick the guts out of this area.”