TROUBLE is in store for traders who say they will be forced to quit if a retail development in South Tyneside wins planning permission.
Aldi Stores Ltd plans to launch a new food store at a garage site in Albert Road, Jarrow, creating 20 jobs.
But the site is already occupied by several small firms, employing more than 20 staff, who say they will face closure if the retail plan is approved.
A protest petition has been launched, with more than 100 customers supporting traders’ pleas to stay where they are.
First-time businessman Craig Whitehouse, who ploughed £35,000 into launching Pinnacle Plumbing and Heating Supplies at the site, just a year ago, said he risks losing everything if the store plan goes ahead.
Mr Whitehouse, 27, said: “My business is really taking off, with customers everywhere from South Tyneside to London, but we will have to close if the store is built on the site.
“This is my first business and we employ two staff, but it will be the end if the Aldi store is built here.” Andrew Cole, owner of Tyre Bay, said: “I only started the business six months ago, but I will have to close if they build the store.”
JCS Car Sales has been based at the former petrol filling station for 10 years, and employs 11 staff, selling second-hand cars and also providing a limousine and van hire service.
A company spokesman said: “We will have to close if the Aldi store is built here – it’s as simple as that.”
The garage site in Jarrow also includes the mobile Burger Grill and personal injury specialists Claim It! Ltd.
Petitioners say the creation of a new store will cause “noise and road congestion in this mainly residential area”.
It is also claimed that nearby stores in Jarrow town centre would suffer commercially if the Aldi store is built.
A spokesman for the petitioners said: “I feel that closing the site will be a tragic loss to the area and detrimental to the long-established businesses and the many staff and their families who have become a part of the community.”
Coun John Hodgson, for the Monkton ward, Jarrow, said: “I feel a great deal of sympathy for these traders. If the store plan is approved, I would hope the council could help them to relocate, or perhaps they should talk to Aldi, to see if there is any land to spare around the site.”
A single-storey scheme, the Aldi store would cover 900 square metres and include a 72-space car park with HGV access.
Aldi submitted its planning application to South Tyneside Council last month, and a decision is due by the end of next month.
An Aldi spokesman said: “The current landowner has been looking to sell the site for some time, prior to Aldi becoming involved, and has discussed these intentions with the tenant.
“They have been dealing directly with the tenant, currently under a short-term lease (expiring at the end of next year even without these proposals), to ensure the business can be successfully relocated, keeping it local and thriving.
“We believe that the new Aldi store would bring additional jobs and investment to the local area, on a central site, and it has received a great deal of local support for doing this.”