A question mark hangs over the future of some businesses on an industrial estate which employs hundreds of people.
Plans for an all-new commercial unit and 45 new homes at Bourne End Mills will go before Dacorum Borough Council next Thursday (February 25).
But a council spokesman admitted some of the firms which move out while the work is carried out may not be able to return.
Ross Herbert, assistant team leader in development management at the council, said: “I’m not being unrealistic – I don’t think we are going to find solutions for all of those businesses, but the team are doing all they can to point them in the right direction.
“It’s tricky to find businesses with freehold leases, and the borough has a shortage of small units with flexible leases. We want as many of them to stay as local as possible.”
The council’s economic developments team have been working closely with more than 13 firms currently based on the site, which is just off the A41 near Hemel Hempstead, and hopes many may either move into the town or rent one of the new units once the work is complete.
The application shows plans for the ‘sporadic’ buildings on the four-hectare site – which has been used as an industrial area since the Second World War – to be razed to the ground .
The proposal is for 6,407 square metres of new, modern industrial floorspace buffered by a residential development.
The site would only be accessible via the slip roads on the A41 as Upper Bourne End Lane and Bourne End Lane will be blocked off, meaning residents would only be able to walk in to Bourne End village.
This planning application is the 10th to be put forward since the idea to redevelop the site first cropped up in 2008.
Mr Herbert said: “The site has a lot of history but I think this is a pretty good solution.
“After a lot of feedback, we think we have about 90 per cent of what people want.”
Gordon Rolfe, chairman of the Bourne End Village Association, said: “This is the best application we have seen.
“We have talked with the planners at Dacorum all the way through this, and they have been very helpful.
“It does need tidying up and sorting out up there.
“As we understand it, all the businesses there are on short-term leases.
“We care how they are treated and we hope they will move back into the new units down there.”