Staff at the Chief Trading Post in Oldland Common were made redundant between Christmas and the New Year amid uncertainty about when the new café and retail building will be built as part of the redevelopment of the old nurseries site at Barry Road.
In a letter from the company to staff, which The Week In has seen, they were told that Chief Trading Post would close on 30th December and “your services are no longer required due to unforeseen circumstances”, adding: “Any money paid to staff will need to be paid by Director as the company is insolvent.”
The letter is dated 28th December and says that the land is owned by Oldland LLP and all Chief Trading Post staff had known for more than 18 months that the site would be developed for a mixed-use scheme.
It explains that the pandemic, a fire and trading conditions have caused losses in recent years and that the owner can no longer sustain losses and needs to retire.
The letter says that South Gloucestershire Council planning team “did not protect Chief Trading Post in any legal agreement”, adding: “We thought we were key, and the new building would be built first, which was not the case.”
It adds: “The new Chief Trading Post building cannot be built at a cost of £1.2m; two years ago the building was around half the cost when this planning process started, forcing a new design which continues to delay the process. We are at this point unsure of the timescale or costs of the new building. The outcome is not what Chief Trading Post wanted but has been completely out of our control.”
A statement submitted by the developers in 2021 as part of the planning application for the mixed-use site had stated: “The much-cherished Chief Trading Post retail and café facility will be retained on site in a new purpose-built building that reflects ongoing business needs.”
And in a report following community consultation by the developers in that year it was stated: “Intention is that existing traders will be part of the relocated Chief Trading Post (run by Roland Tanner) which will be the first stage of development.”
The existing buildings are to be demolished and as well as the new retail and café building, six supported living homes are to be built. There is also outline planning permission for 50 homes and a community/health surgery building . Full planning permission will be needed before work can start on that.
In 2017 Chief Trading Post Ltd entered into a 15-year lease with Jarrett’s who owned the old nurseries site. The freehold was acquired in 2019 from the Jarrett family by developers Oldland Common LLP for £400,000. Oldland Common LLP is owned by Edward Cussen and Freed Properties Ltd.
The letter sent to Chief Trading Post staff on 28th December says the contract for development was only signed late on 23rd December, with completion on the 28th.
Staff are also told that they had been expected to come in on 28th December to “discuss matters” and help with clearing, but no one turned up.
Meanwhile the separate fruit and veg business that was based on the site is now trading from Oldland Village Club. The dog grooming business based there has moved to a temporary home in Keynsham.