The threat of a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on Hoopers’ customer car park could have a devastating effect on the historic retail chain.
The proposed site for new council offices and a new theatre relies on access through Hoopers’ customer car park and delivery service area. The council has spent £4.2m designing the new Civic Complex without ascertaining if Hoopers would be willing to share this space with the theatre. To ensure that the Civic Complex is not derailed, the council is now threatening a Compulsory Purchase Order on the customer car park. According to Hoopers, this would have a potentially devastating effect on their ability to function effectively. Hoopers state:
“It would create an existential threat to the current operation and viability of an iconic independent retail business, affecting not only the store in Tunbridge Wells but the operation of its three other stores in the group that rely upon services from this store”.
The group provides employment for over 500 people of which 170 are based in Tunbridge Wells. The council has estimated that the project will cost substantially more than £72m to deliver [The £72m is after deducting the projected disposal proceeds of the existing civic complex – the truth is they haven’t actually said how much the project will cost], however this cost does not include the extensive legal costs associated with a CPO, or the cost of the land, should the CPO decision go in the favour of the council.