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Ferrier developer Berkeley Homes opens shop without planning permission
WHILE businesses left on the Ferrier estate struggle to survive, its billion-pound developer has managed to open a brand new shop in a prime location without planning permission.
As News Shopper has previously reported, shops like the Telemann Square off-licence, waiting for its delayed new store, make less than £5 a day now the partially-demolished Kidbrooke estate's residents have left.
So they were shocked to discover a Berkeley Homes-owned branch of The Market Place chain had opened up nearby at the developer's exhibition centre, selling many of the same products as the estate's existing, struggling stores.
Current businesses are puzzled that the corporation feels the need to make profits out of sweets and crisps while selling new Kibrooke Village properties for £425,000 a pop.
Off-licence runner Mohan Plaha said: "They've been able to open this place up overnight because it's Berkeley's shop. They can do what they want - it's one rule for them and another for everybody else.
"We've been waiting here five years. Why wasn't it offered to people running a shop here already?
"They've let us down - we've been waiting five years for a new shop."
Shopkeepers complain it was not included in the plans and has opened up overnight at the start of April before a planning application even appeared on the council's website.
Even now, no planning permission has been granted, yet it continues to trade.
A petition against it has been signed by 70 people so far, who say the building should be kept as a community centre.
Chemist Padma Patel said: "We were asked to carry on doing a community service here.
"What other surprises have they got planned?"
A spokesman for Berkeley said: "A partial alteration to the use class of a previously granted planning permission for the Regeneration Centre has been sought, and is a technical procedure as such use fits in with the existing masterplan for the development.
"The Marketplace is a much welcome addition to the retail offer at Kidbrooke Village and we've received very positive feedback from local residents.
"It is a temporary measure until the opening of the interim hub later in the summer when Sainsbury's Local will open their new store opposite the train station.
"Mr Plaha would of course be welcome to continue to operate given there are currently no other proposed exclusively operated off-licences such as his, although the commercial viability of that is a decision only Mr Plaha can take.
"Whilst we sympathise, it would certainly not be fair to the rest of the community to have a ban on any other new shops opening which can serve local residents."