The owners of nine businesses on Kernick Industrial Estate in Penryn have been left fearing for their livelihoods after being served eviction notices and told to be out by the new year.

Irregular Cornwall, who own the land in Jennings Road, and whose plans to build student accommodation on the Homeshed site were rejected by Cornwall Council, claim it has "been forced" to serve notice on the current tenants after being told the site, in its current form, is "unfit for purpose" and the existing units are "untenable as part of a vibrant, modern business park."

The businesses affected, though, do not agree. In a statement they say: "We all completely agree that the site requires some redevelopment but it should stay as B1 and B2 (industrial use) and there are people willing to buy the site and do just this.

"The Irregular development, contrary to what they are stating, has zero provision for B2, which is dirty, smelly, dusty and noisy and not compatible with residential use."

The business owners say they are "extremely disheartened and upset" after receiving the eviction notices which instruct them to leave by January 1.

They say: "This means nine local unique businesses may now have to close as there are simply no business units available anywhere, with the relevant loss of employment.

"Cornwall Council themselves have said this land is safeguarded for B1 and B2 industrial uses due to the extreme scarcity of such designated land and the critical shortage of small business units.

"This very development has already been rejected once as has the Home Bargains application, all for the same reasons. We objected to the development along with hundreds of very concerned local businesses and residents who understand the importance of these small business spaces, but they obviously feel they can silence us by evicting us and destroying our businesses.

"The units will now certainly be destroyed along with our businesses and livelihoods and sit as waste ground until these profit obsessed developers get their way."

Dan Edwards, of Tideline Engineering, added: "I will not be spending my Christmas with my new born son relaxing, but instead desperately trying to save my business."

Irregular Cornwall claim the buildings are at the end of their life due to the presence of asbestos, but the business owners claim there is no health and safety issue with this as long as it is left undisturbed.

The company has plans to build student accommodation, a health centre and surgery and "significant" new light industrial and commercial space was proposed for the next phase of the masterplan.

Andy Cook, development manager for Irregular Cornwall, said: "Inexplicably to us, councillors unanimously agreed to vote against the professional planning and economic development officers’ recommendation for approval of the Irregular scheme.

“This was in spite of a high profile and extensive public consultation exercise which attracted the opinion of more than 1,300 members of the public in both Falmouth and Penryn. The results of that far-reaching consultation suggested that 95 per cent of the public who answered questionnaires supported the proposals, with only four commenting on the perceived change of use from traditional industrial land.”

He added: "We have a duty of care towards our tenants and for that reason along we are not happy for them to continue to operate from these crumbling units. It is disappointing that Cornwall councillors failed to recognise the reality of the situation. It is their decision that has forced our hand.

“The fact remains that we have a six-acre brownfield site that can accommodate a large, modern mixed-use scheme and all manner of tenures. Our aim all along has been to assist local businesses and the university working in harmony. Furthermore, our plans all accord with national planning policy in preference to green field alternatives.”