A SHOPPING centre is to be converted into a giant gym in a move which has raised concerns amongst long-serving traders set to be displaced.
The plans will see the ground floor of the market hall in the Westside Plaza in Wester Hailes transformed into a fitness complex covering 30,000 square feet.
Market traders, some of whom have been there for more than a decade, have been given four weeks’ notice to make way for the English-based leisure company.
The gym will also occupy the ground floor of two empty units in the main shopping concourse, under Lidl and Home Bargains.
Jones Lang LaSalle, agent on behalf of the centre’s owners, has declined to reveal the gym’s name but is “hoping to make an announcement” within two weeks. Asset manager Simon Usher of Jones Lang LaSalle said: “It will be a large gym opened just after Christmas, probably early in the New Year.
“We are doing our best to speak to all the traders, and we are looking to relocate as many as we can.
“We are certainly anxious to keep as many as possible within the centre, particularly when they are established businesses trading well.”
He added that some of the stall-holders could trade from mall units within the atrium of the main shopping centre.
There are 11 traders, of which ten have been served with letters to vacate the premises by August 30.
Single mother Iscah Ngonomo, 39, runs a hair salon and an African and Caribbean food store called Qwix, and has been there for six months.
She said: “I am worried. I have been given four weeks to move and I have no place to go.”
Seamstress Heather Johnson, 58, who only set up her stall in February, said: “It came as a shock on Friday when we were all presented with the letters, especially as there is nowhere else available to set up or relocate to. We are presently collecting names for a petition but it has been suggested that it will only be ignored and that there is little we can do to prevent this from happening. We are all very angry that this can even be allowed to happen.
“Some of the tenants have only just started up their business this year. Had they known that this would be the outcome maybe they could have looked for other options elsewhere at the time.”
She added: “They are talking about relocating us but there is nowhere to relocate us to.”
There was a tenants meeting on July 24 at which it was claimed there was no mention of these plans.
Centre manager Alex Limond said: “Westside Plaza is very much a local centre and as always our commitment is to creating the best possible shopping and leisure environment for our community. We have given the traders four weeks’ notice, which was in accordance with the terms of their contract.”