A RIBBLE Valley business park’s ‘long-term future is under threat’ because of ‘intolerably high’ rates.

The owner of Backridge Farm in Waddington, Richard Drinkall, has said the site ‘might not exist’ in the near future because of the level of business rates his tenants have to pay Ribble Valley Borough Council.

The Twitter Lane site opened in 2002 and currently houses around 20 businesses, but has suffered with a high number of shops moving away in recent years.

The latest high-profile closure was The Plate restaurant which shut its doors with the loss of nine jobs in December because of the high rates.

Mr Drinkall has been ‘forced’ to slash the amount of rent he charges his tenants by 50 per cent in order to help them cope with the business rates.

However, despite his efforts, which have also included not charging any rent for a period, businesses have ‘had no choice’ but to move out of the area once the rent has been restored.

Mr Drinkall said: “The tenants that I have had here in the past struggled to cope with the high business rates and the full price rent charges.

“I’ve tried to do what I can but obviously cutting the rent down by so much has hurt my business.

“It’s impacted on the amount of investment that I can put into the site and it’s not a policy that I can continue forever.

“The tenants really have had no choice but to move on after a while because it’s too expensive for them.

“I really don’t know why shops here are charged such high rates because we are not on a main road or anything like that.

“The amount that the shops have to pay varies but it’s around £100 per square metre.

“I’m worried that if the rates continue to be as high as they are then the long-term future of the site will be very much in doubt.”

Mr Drinkall is searching for a new tenant for The Plate and also revealed that tea room Just Vintage will open on the site on May 31.