Brentwood traders fear disruption as Towie Towers is approved
THE owner of a shop made famous by The Only Way Is Essex is threatening to quit Ropers Yard in Brentwood after a three-storey, multimillion-pound development dubbed Towie Towers was granted planning permission in nearby Crown Street.
Suzanne Wells, the mother of Towie stars Sam and Billie Faiers, is considering moving Minnies Boutique elsewhere in the wake of Brentwood Borough Council's decision to permit the construction of a development containing 14 flats and shops at the corner of Hart Street and Crown Street.
The project is the brainchild of Paul Mecklenburgh, the father of Towie star Lucy Mecklenburgh, a friend of the Faiers sisters.
Mrs Wells, who has run the shop since 2011 with her sister Libby Low, believes the towering development will block out so much sunlight that she will have no choice but to move away from Roper's Yard.
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She is not alone. Corinne Nunn, who has operated her nail studio from the yard for the past eight years, is also unhappy with the plans, as is former Towie star Dino Georgiades, owner of sports supplement shop GX2.
The borough council insists it sent consultation letters out to each of these businesses on Demceber 7 after the Crown Street application was submitted.
However, all three of them say they did not receive any correspondence from the authority.
Mrs Wells said: "We have had no letter at all. We are even contemplating moving because of the development.
"It's going to block all our light out – we get very little light as it is. We are really going to struggle with that huge development hanging over us.
"I just can't understand why the council has not told us about it."
The Towie Towers proposal was first revealed by the Gazette in December 2011.
Initially, Mr Mecklenburgh had asked the council for permission to build a four-storey block of 17 flats plus ground floor shops.
However, this was rejected by the authority's planning development and control committee in July last year after it was deemed too large.
Ms Nunn, who owns Nails At Studio 4, said: "Who is going to compensate us for the disruption the work is going to cause the business?
"We will not be able to work with the doors open – and in the summer it gets really hot.
"No one is going to want to sit in a shop when it's more than 80C.
"I'm going to have to get air conditioning – that's going to cost a fortune.
"I don't think people will not want to come down here. It's going to be horrendous."
Mr Georgiades added: It's not so much of a big block towering above the shops, but we are more concerned about the loss of trade while the building work is going on.
"I can't see how it is going to go smoothly with machinery having to work so closely to us.
"You would have thought we would be the first to get a letter."