Offer me a better price and I’ll go

THE owner of the only store left in a condemned building has hit back at claims he is holding up the last phase of a major housing development, insisting he was offered just £80,000 to hand over his business.

Athar Alim has run Nicer Foods on Oxgangs Crescent with his wife Nasreen Ali for nearly 20 years but has been ordered out to make way for a new block of apartments.

The 40-year-old – known as Alan – claims the amount he was offered by Edinburgh City Council is not enough to buy other premises in the area.

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And while the amount was later upped to £170,000, to include all six ground floor retail plots that Mr Alim owns, it was still not enough to afford a plot of the same size on the new housing development.

However, as the Evening News told last week, council chiefs have already completed a Compulsory Purchase Order.

Mr Alim, who says he has collected hundreds of signatures from local residents supporting him, said: “We are not refusing to leave and we are willing to co-operate with the council if they would come to a fair agreement with us.

“We are continuing to trade as the council have not paid us a single penny and have not responded to two letters from our lawyers.”

The 1960s low-rise block stands in the way of the fourth and final stage of the major redevelopment scheme.

Mr Alim was offered premises on the new development by Dunedin Canmore – single plots at £205,000 or £190,000, or £395,000 for both, but says he could not afford it. He also declined to rent the double plot for £30,000 per year.

Mr Alim, who lives with his family in Prestonpans, East Lothian, added: “We have four children at primary school and many other commitments, and the city council wish us to close the doors on a very successful business without any reasonable compromise.”

A council spokesman said that it had made “several offers at market value to the owners.”

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He added: “The council now owns these properties. As they have rejected all offers and have ignored requests to leave voluntarily we are now exploring our enforcement options.”

Speaking about the option to move into the new development, Graeme Russell, housing services director at Dunedin Canmore, added: “This association did give Mr Alim first offer when the property became available and at various points he said he was going to take it.

“We have two convenience store units, and in 2006 these were valued at £205,000 for one and £190,000 for the other, which is £395,000 altogether.

“As a housing association we are not permitted to sell for less than the valuation given to us by an independent valuer.”