BUSINESS owners in Romsey have hit out at the management of a serviced office block after having their rent and parking fees increased.

Businesses renting space at Basepoint Business Centre, in Abbey Park Industrial Estate in Romsey, expressed their upset at the new charges.

The centre, which opened in 1994, is home to 80 businesses. It says the rent increases that have been brought in bring the fees in line with 'current market rates' after operating at a lower rate throughout the pandemic.

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However, this has not been easy to cope with for many of the small businesses operating from there.

Lauren Denham, manager of Baby Necessities, a baby bank that provides new and pre-loved items to families in need, said she fears her rent could be increased by anything up to 40 per cent.

She said: "There seems to be no loyalty and they're also looking to impose parking charges.

"They think if we leave, there will be someone to fill our place, but it's hard to believe that's true because prices are so high."

Lauren said that Baby Necessities is a charitable cause, and the price hike could mean it is not viable for them to stay as a charity. 

She said: "These charges and price hikes are taking money away from the people we support."

Lauren is not alone in her struggle to cope with the rising prices.

Owner of SO51 Fitness, Amy Dutfield said she is on the verge of closing her gym business after being hit with a 29.5 per cent rent increase since December 2021.

Amy said she managed to survived through lockdown, but says the rent increase may be the final nail in the coffin for her business.

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She said: "I have built a successful gym that has won three awards and has been featured in Forbes Magazine, yet now I'm on the verge of closing my business.

"I'm feeling really hard done by. It feels like they're trying to drive small businesses out."

Emma Scott, who owns Emma Scott Beauty, has also been affected by the rent increase.

She has been at Basepoint for three years and said she cannot leave due to large exit fees.

She said: "The rent increase and parking fee charge is going to cause havoc with our business but it feels they have you over a barrel."

Emma said she was given an exit fee of £10,000 and also given a quote of £9,000 to put her unit back to how it originally was.

She said: "It makes you feel you have lost control of your business."

A spokesperson for Basepoint, which operates a further 29 serviced office centres across the south, said: "During the pandemic, we provided many customers with significant discounts on space in order to support them through difficult times.

"As customers now renew, pricing is adjusted to the current market rates.

"We are committed to working with all of the businesses based in and around Romsey, providing flexible workspace options to meet the size of space and length of term a business may need."