FOUR developers are interested in demolishing derelict shops in Cradley and replacing them with four single storey retail units, it has been revealed.

The news was announced by Dudley Council officers at a packed meeting of the Cradley Action Group – the night before the first of two arson attacks on the Colley Gate buildings.

A blaze ripped through a single storey former antiques shop and an asbestos-roofed garage last Thursday night and the former Lucky Star takeaway next door was gutted by flames on Friday night.

Lynn Adams, whose Colley Lane home backs onto the fire-ravaged shops, said residents were evacuated for more than an hour as dangerous asbestos debris landed in their gardens.

The Adam Myers pharmacy next to the empty Lucky Star was affected by smoke and a spokesman said the cost of the damage was still being assessed.

Mrs Adams said fence panels and a conservatory were damaged and council workmen cleared the asbestos from their gardens.

The fires came a week after the News reported residents’ fears that the shops were dangerous, insecure and should be boarded up and a solution found to rid the area of the blighted buildings.

The fire-hit premises, which belong to Edwin Goodman and three neighbouring derelict shops owned by Shakil Hussain have now been boarded up by the council.

The two owners failed to respond to council orders to secure the buildings and the cost of the boarding will be charged to them.

Mr Hussain, whose premises include the former Shaks Balti takeaway, reneged on his promise made in the News a fortnight ago to make the building safe and secure.

Mr Goodman, is a 64-year-old recluse, of Drews Holloway, has ignored numerous calls to maintain his dilapidated premises.

The council has set a deadline of July 31 for developers to register an interest in the buildings, which include two functioning businesses – the pharmacy and the Golden Cup takeaway operating from council-owned premises.

Chris Legiewicz, co-founder of the Cradley Action Group, said members hoped Mr Hussain and Mr Goodman would not hold up the redevelopment and agree to sell their properties.

Councillor Rachel Harris, cabinet member responsible for legal and property, said: We remain committed to solving the issues at Colley Gate and revitalising the area for everyone.”