A DENTIST said his business in on hold as he lives under the threat of moving to make way for Sunderland’s new bridge.
Martin Anderson has been running Wessington Way Dental Practice since 2001.
But for more than a decade he has been expecting to move to make way for the new Wear Crossing.
The project was first mooted in 2003, and Sunderland City Council made Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO) on affected businesses – including Martin’s – in 2009, with two supplementary orders following in 2011.
But plans for an £118million iconic bridge was scrapped last July over concerns of the costs.
Council bosses have since gone back to the drawing board and come up with plans for a more simplified version and have again served CPO notices on affected landowners and tenants.
The date for ownership to transfer the land has been set as February 27 next year, from when the city council will own the land within the boundary.
But Martin claims he and his 15 staff are in limbo.
He said: “We have been given our regular CPO notices but that’s happened several times before, but haven’t had notice to get out.
“In order to reach that stage, they have to find a company to design the bridge at a price that the council can pay.
“If that doesn’t happen there will be no bridge. There is no point moving people out of properties and disturbing businesses if the project can’t go ahead.
“We are concerned, but if I were to lose sleep over it I wouldn’t have slept for the last 10 years. We’ve been here 13 years – 10 of these we have been threatened with the CPO.”
Martin said potential patients have been put off over joining the practice, unsure of where it will be, should the bridge go ahead.
He added: “We have been told to run the business as normal, but the council wants to have a say over any major expenses, in case we later put a claim in.
“We recently had to ask the council permission to buy a new telephone system. Is that running your business as normal?
“This building is purpose-built – we designed it from scratch. It took us two years for the whole process. We said to the council that if this happens we need two years’ notice and they said yes. That’s just forgotten now.
“We now haven’t got time to build a new building, we will just have to take what we can.”
He added: “We have won national and internationals awards, raising the profile of the city. This is the recognition we get for this.”
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson said: “It would be inappropriate to discuss in a public forum details and negotiations of any individual case within the CPO for the New Wear Crossing or any other scheme.
“Scheme orders for the crossing were first published in 2009 and a public inquiry on land acquisition, chaired by a Government Inspector, was completed in October 2012.
“The city council continues to follow due process and work with all affected parties in an ethical and equitable way.
“The crossing will unlock a significant amount of brownfield land, creating the potential for many thousands of new jobs as it improves infrastructure and transport connections across the city and wider region.”