Concentric Park Industrial Estate in Birmingham, England may fall victim to eminent domain by City Council

[GBP Note:  This article discusses an eminent domain situation in which a government has the right expropriate private property for public use.  In this case, it seems like the Birmingham City Council is using eminent domain to buy a going-concern industrial estate only to replace it with another larger industrial park.  The interesting commentary is that Council may have expected those forced to leave would move back into the new development when its ready but the ousted tenants may not 1) have interest to move back in and 2) may not be able to afford a higher rent.  What are your comments on the situation? ]


SMEs under threat as Aston industrial estate has to make way for new hub

Plans to create an advanced manufacturing hub in Birmingham could spell the demise of more than a dozen firms employing 150 workers, a businessman has claimed.

Stuart Homer said the jobs had been thrown into doubt with his Concentric Park Industrial Estate set to be compulsorily purchased by Birmingham City Council.

The site, in Priory Road, Aston, is due to make way for the development of the hub, aimed at attracting companies in the automotive supply chain and aerospace sector to the city.

But Mr Homer branded the initiative – one of six economic zones launched by the council last year in a bid to create nearly 50,000 jobs – a “public sector vanity project”.

And he said he could not understand why his estate – which he claimed occupied just seven per cent of the hub’s first phase – could not remain in its current form.

“I have no objection to regenerating the area but I fail to see why they need to demolish this site and kick everybody off,” he said. “We would like to say ‘let us stay on here and work with you’, we are only a little bit in the big scheme of things.”

A total of 16 firms are based on Mr Homer’s site. He said most would struggle financially to relocate elsewhere and feared a move to the hub was out of the question because of the expected level of rent.

He has made representations to a public inquiry but it ruled the redevelopment scheme could proceed. Mr Homer will be compensated but said he was concerned for his tenants.

“I could do alright but that’s not the point,” he said. “My concern is the people here.

“I go to their Christmas parties and know the names of their children. It’s not a normal landlord/tenant relationship and a lot of guys here are very worried.

“There are some good firms, including a couple of engineering firms involved in automotive and aerospace. They have weathered the recession and many have expanded quite a lot since they’ve been here.

“We’re not a big greedy corporate landlord and our rates are low. We try and keep them reasonable and as a result tend to get start-ups who wouldn’t want a ten-year lease.

“Elsewhere they might be charged between £7 to £11 a sq ft for a starter unit. We charge about £3 a sq ft, which gives start-up businesses a bit of a cushion.”

Tenants on the site echoed Mr Homer’s concerns.

Lee Sheppard, who owns metal spinning LeeMark Spinnings with his brother Mark, said: “It is ridiculous when there’s so many empty properties in the area.

“Why do they need to close down a thriving industrial estate to create something that isn’t really needed?”

Mr Sheppard, whose company supplies BAE Systems and makes fuel tanks for Tornado and Harrier jets, said there were plenty of unoccupied sites nearby which could be used.

“We’ve been told the new hub would be ideal for us as we are in aerospace but I am not going to go there,” he said. “We couldn’t pay the rent they were asking and be a successful company.

“They think we are going to move out and move back in – we are not. For little companies these small units are perfect but there are companies here that are going to close.

“If they left us here, what problem would we be to a big industrial estate?”


For full story and photos in the Birmingham Post Click Here.

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