MEMBERS of a campaign group set up to save the Kimberley Brewery fear the majority of the site will be turned into social housing.
Although the site’s new owner Rafiq Vindhani has not revealed exactly what he has planned, he has teamed up with Barteak – a company that specialises in social housing – to draw up a blueprint for the site.
Save our Brewery Site (SOBS) chairman Darren Warner said too much affordable housing on the site would create a ‘mini ghetto’ in Kimberley and would be the ‘destruction’ of the town.
“It wouldn’t be in keeping with such a characteristic historic site and would just create a mini ghetto in Kimberley,” he said.
“It’s very important to keep the identity of the area.”
Mr Vindhani has owned the site for over a year but Mr Warner is worried about the uncertainty which still hangs over it.
He fears that Mr Vindhani plans to hit people with a ‘bombshell’ that the majority of it will become social housing – a move he is dead against.
“I think he could be taking a while because he is getting legalities in place before hitting us with the bombshell that he wants to build 500 social houses,” he said. “That’s my gut feeling.”
Mr Warner believes Kimberley has already had its fair share of affordable housing, and revealed he has researched figures to back this up in preparation to fight proposals should a planning application be submitted.
However, Mr Vindhani vowed he was not looking at filling all the site with social housing and would still ‘explore development and commercial’ uses.
He confirmed he was working with Barteak, but said he would not know until next month what the exact details of the plan were.
“We are nearing an agreement now and hopefully there will be a public meeting in April with Barteak where the masterplan will be revealed,” he said.
“There’s a lot of work involved and Barteak need to get all the details and all the figures before putting the plan on the table.”
The SOBS group has met with Mr Vindhani every few months since he bought the brewery site although members say despite this they have still been left in the dark.
But Mr Vindhani defended his plans and moved to assure residents he had the community’s best interests at heart.
“It’s taken some time because I have had to explore all the options,” he added.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done – engineers reports and surveys, and I’m not a developer.
“I have always maintained we will do what works for everybody, especially the community in Kimberley.
“If it works for them it will work for us. It’s a common good approach.”
Mr Warner vowed to fight any proposals the SOBS group did not like or agree with.
“They will have to put their proposals forward and it will have to be battled out through the council if we don’t like it,” he warned. “It could get a bit messy.
“The brewery site will make or break Kimberley and if it’s done badly it would be the destruction of the area.”
SOBS member Susan McEntee revealed said she would like to see a cinema and a cafe at the site.
Barteak expressed an interest in the brewery when it went up for sale and planned to buy it, but were beaten to it by Mr Vindhani’s Leicester based company Amfaah Investments.