A Winchester businessman is growing angry by delays in dealing with Winchester City Council.

Keith Webb is frustrated by long waits in getting approval on leases for commercial properties at Scylla Estates on Winnall Valley Road. He has several on 99-year leases which have around 50 years to run.

Officially, no units should be let until the council estates department have formally approved the new tenancy.

Mr Webb, of Quarry Road, St Giles Hill, said the bureaucracy is undermining business as many potential firms need to move swiftly.

Letters to the estates department have gone unanswered for some eight weeks.

He said: “To make matters worse, we have to pay rates on empty properties, so apart from losing rent, are hit by a double whammy.

“I have previously threatened to sue the city council for deliberately frustrating my business and making lettings at short notice, impossible.”

Mr Webb said he has had several applications turned down as ‘against policy’.

“Given the state of the market, any letting is a good letting and it seems that the emphasis is on finding a way to refuse a request, rather than a way to help new businesses get established in the city and provide employment.

“The reason given is that when the ground lease ends, the units will be occupied by tenants who are acceptable to the council. However, in fifty years, most of us will be dead and business needs will have changed out of all recognition.”

No-one was available to discuss the issue from the council, although in a statement the council said: “Mr Webb’s complaint is being considered and a response is due by September 19 in accordance with our complaints process.”