Devastated traders at Chorley's popular Botany Bay shopping mill have been hit by the bombshell news that they have just three months to leave the premises.
A major redevelopment scheme is to take place at the Botany Bay site.
Plans include the redevelopment of 37 hectares of land split by the Leeds to Liverpool Canal to create a 300,000 sq ft retail outlet village, up to 288 homes and space for significant employment uses.
The mill will now close in February to allow work to start on the new Botany Bay Outlet Village.
One stunned tenant, Barrica Wines, posted a Facebook message saying; "As tenants we have been working on the assumption that this development would begin later next year.
"We have recently been advised that this is not the case. Work will begin early next year and so we have just today, been given three months notice to vacate our premises."
It added: "As you can imagine, this has not only come as a shock, but also means we have a very short space of time to find a new home for Barrica, which will be logistically challenging at the very least."
Barrica owner Jane Cuthbertson said she thought the business would be able to trade for another year at Botany Bay before having to move out.
"The general consensus was it was going to be 2020 when it closed," she said.
She added: "I was hoping at one point we would be welcome back into the mill after the development , but that's not looking to be the case.
"It's a difficult time for the tenants - it's not a hobby for a lot of us, it's our livelihoods."
Acepark Group confirmed it will be closing its Botany Bay business following the conclusion of an operational review in October.
It said the mill would close in February to allow development-enabling works for the new Botany Bay Outlet Village to proceed.
A spokesperson said: “This was an extremely difficult decision to make and we realise that it will be devastating news for our stallholders but the operational review has concluded that it is not economically viable to make extensive repairs to a building that is earmarked for redevelopment.
“The mill will continue to trade for the next three months, during which time we will work closely with Chorley Council, local employment agencies and property landlords to give our colleagues, tenants and stallholders the best possible chance of securing alternative roles and locations.”
Councillor Alistair Bradley, Leader of Chorley Council, said: “If any of the businesses in Botany Bay would like any support we are here to help.
“We’ve already contacted the owners of Botany Bay with this offer for any of their traders whether its assistance with finding suitable alternative premises or just general business advice.
“The independent boutique type offer fits really well with the town centre so if we can match businesses up with premises there then it will ensure the business can keep operating and it will benefit the town centre too.
“Similarly we have support available for people whose jobs are at risk and we’d encourage those people to get in touch too if they’d like some assistance in gaining new employment.
“It is a shame that the mill has to close while improvement works are carried out but if the future vision for Botany Bay can be realised then it will have a long term benefit for our local economy.”