CHARLTON businesses have warned they will wait for the bailiffs rather than voluntarily leave to make way for two huge superstores

The Greenwich Council-owned Brocklebank industrial estate has 16 units but developer LXB plans to buy the land, demolish the existing buildings and replace them with two large units and an 85-space car park.

A planning application has already gone in but Philip Skinner, a Brocklebank business owner of 30 years who runs Hallmark Glazing with his four employees, is angry about the lack of consultation so far.

He said: "They said they were going to offer us an alternative but we've been told there's a shortage of industrial units.

"If they don't offer us a similar unit in a similar location, we'll only leave here with eviction by bailiffs.

"This is our livelihood, we've got nowhere else to go. We're not in it for greed, we just want to keep on running."

Businesses have received several letters of apology from council leader Councillor Chris Roberts about the "distress" caused to them and "lack of communication" over the impending sale..

But they doubt that the promised arrangements will be made to support them, worry about losing all the customers they have built up and say employment in the area will suffer just for the benefit of two large stores.

William Adewole, a former cab driver, put himself through college to set up Homrad MOT as an engineer eight years ago, and now performs around 5,000 MOTs per year.

He said: "If I knew I was going to have to relocate I wouldn't have come here for a start and invested so much money in this business.

"I'm going to lose most of my customers. Most come here because of the location and our intensive advertisements originally.

"The council must not kill small businesses. Small scale industries are the wheel that propels the economy, not the big industries. But in Greenwich how many small units do we have? Nothing.

"If the council cannot provide us alternative accommodation, like for like, they should leave us in peace. We're happy here."

A spokeswoman for Greenwich Council said: "Supporting our local businesses and boosting the local economy is one of the most important priorities for the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

"There has been on-going contact with the tenants of the Brocklebank Industrial Estate regarding plans for the site, including face to face visits carried out in recent days.

"We will not be selling this land without a legal provision that these businesses will be supported by the new landowner.  The council will continue to work with the businesses and assist to ensure their trading needs can be met as far as possible within the borough."