Plea for local business support

AN Alnwick businessman has made a plea for local firms to support one another, after he was quoted £230,000 a year to lease a site from Northumberland Estates.

In a letter to the Gazette (see page 10), Simon Jarvis said it also quoted a one-off payment of £500,000 to create an entertainment venue based on a bowling alley at Cawledge Park. He claims these figures make it “virtually impossible to achieve the desired outcome”.

Expressing a concern that the Estates wanted to attract big-name businesses, he added: “We live miles from anywhere – we need to be able to generate business and opportunity for our ourselves. We cannot do this with the cards stacked against us.”

But Colin Davidson, the Estates’ commercial property manager, said: “Northumberland Estates is and always has been keen to encourage local businesses and to see them succeed, particularly where they have something new to offer the town.

“The recent successful planning application for a hotel is a case in point where the Estate is seeking to take the scheme forward with a local operator as we feel this type of business would best suit Alnwick and offers the greater potential benefits to local suppliers and other associated businesses.

“One of the main reasons Alnwick recently won the Google prize for best high street was because of the good mix of independent and large operators. This principle is one the Estate actively seeks to promote throughout the town and not just in the town centre. The Lionheart and Hotspur Court industrial estates are another case in point where the new units have been taken by a varied mix of operators ranging from Farmway to smaller local enterprises such as Total Flooring, Cyclelife, Ash Wynn, JRC Motors and others.

“As I understand it Mr Jarvis’ plans for a bowling alley are at a very early stage and still require a considerable amount of market and other research before he would be in a position to proceed. The figures quoted therefore were ball park figures designed to act purely as a guide to current market values for a large, purpose-built unit of the type he was describing. Once Mr Jarvis has his business plan in place we would be delighted to discuss his ideas in more detail should he so wish. We are always happy and willing to talk through potential business ideas with anyone and offer help where we can.”