Businesses in a High Wycombe shopping centre claim they have not been told about plans to partly demolish it and turn it into flats.

Chilterns Shopping Centre on Frogmoor could be turned into 303 build-to-rent apartments under a new application for planning permission submitted to Buckinghamshire Council this week.

READ MORE: Chilterns Shopping Centre: Businesses given timeline for housing regeneration plan

Dandara Living Developments Ltd wants to transform the building, which it says “has been in steady decline” since the opening of the Eden shopping centre.

Many of the centre’s tenants left before the planning application was submitted, including the most recent departure, Wilko in a move dubbed “a sad day for the high street”.

Bucks Free Press: Wilko has shut down at Chilterns Shopping Centre

Some of the shops that remain in the shopping centre say they have been kept in the dark over the future of their businesses and were not aware of the new housing plan.

Raj, 43, the owner phone repair shop CM Communications has run his business out of the centre since 2005.

“People are not happy about building flats, I have asked the customers,” he told the BBC Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

“We are not happy to leave. We have been working for a long time. It is not easy. We would like to continue the shopping centre.”

The shop owner, whose lease runs out in July, added: “This is a main road. How come they are making plans, and we don’t know what is happening?”

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Only a handful of other shops remain in the mostly-shuttered units of the shopping centre, which opened in1987, with Card Factory one of the last big brands left on the site.

A member of staff at the greeting cards chain told the LDRS: “We have not been given any dates. All we know is that it is going to be flats. That is about it.”

A Primark employee also said staff had been left in the dark about the budget retailer’s future in Chilterns Shopping Centre following the announcement this year that the store would relocate to the former House of Fraser in the Eden Shopping Centre.

READ MORE: High Wycombe Primark confirms move into Eden Centre's House of Fraser

Chris Miller moved his Air Raid Shelter Cafe and Tea Room out of the Chilterns Shopping Centre across the road into the premises of his formerly closed down business Sosh Club on Frogmoor in late September.

The business owner said tenants of the shopping centre had leases until July 2024 and “always knew about” brake clauses that allowed Dandara to evict tenants with a one month’s notice in January.

He said the plans for the shopping centre had been “pushed on” by Wilko’s departure after several delays to plans for the new flats.

Bucks Free Press: Plans for flats at Chilterns Shopping Centre

He told the LDRS: “I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity I had from Dandara because rent over there is very low and that has given me and a lot of other people the chance to start our own businesses.

“But it has been very difficult trying to run a business in a shopping centre that has no budget to repair anything. It has literally been falling apart around us, which isn’t really fair.”

A cleaner at the centre told the LDRS: “They keep a lot of things close to their chest. They don’t say what they are going to do with the place.”

Asked if he may lose his job due to the plans for the shopping centre, he replied: “If they shut it down, yes.”

Dandara refused to confirm the terms of the tenants’ leases or construction timescales and said businesses in the Chilterns Shopping Centre will “continue to operate at their discretion”.

The property developer claimed that 93 per cent of people it spoke to “supported the principle of new shops and new homes being provided on the site”.

Meanwhile, 86 per cent were said to “believe the proposed development would help the town centre” with 79 per cent “supporting the introduction of new build-to-rent homes in the heart of the town”.

A spokesperson for Dandara said: “Tenants have been given a single point of contact to discuss matters related to the redevelopment of the site and have been offered one-on-one sessions to discuss specific enquiries related to their circumstances.

“Tenants of the shopping centre have remained an important group of stakeholders and have been offered information throughout our programme of engagement.

“The existing tenants, many of whom agreed a lease following the announcement of the redevelopment, have been generally positive of the proposals, but mindful of the inevitable need to vacate the premises at a point in the future to enable the redevelopment to commence.”