A CAFE owner claims the impact of building work on his trade means he will have to walk away from “a labour of love” .

John Easterby has been running Speaker’s Corner in George Street, Brighton, for three years.

But he believes a development by the landlord company Wildwood Properties Ltd to build more flats in the block has caused his business to “flatline” because of disruption and scaffolding covering his shop front.

The 59-year-old said: “I’ve got a beautiful shop front and I put a lot of money into it, but within two months of it going up the scaffolding had covered it completely.

“That was 13 months ago. I was told it would be up for six months but we’re looking at double that now.

“So a business that was on a really nice upward trajectory has flatlined. For the last year I have been subsidising the cafe to keep it going.

“It’s brought me to a point where I cannot waste my pension entirely. I’m having to walk away from something I really love.”

John said residents had opposed the development when it was in the application stage, but the project was approved by Brighton and Hove City Council and he has suffered a number of problems since building work began at the start of 2019.

He said: “We’ve had dust and debris being swept into the backyard, which blocked the drains.

“It’s just been noise, noise, noise. I’ve had days where people have just upped and left.”

John said Speaker’s Corner is a “loved part of the community”,which he set up not just as a cafe, but as an events space.

He said: “We have a writers’ group here every Wednesday and a charity used to run film screenings. I’ve put so much love and time into this place, but it’s just become economically unviable and emotionally stressful. It’s affected me physically.”

John said he is having to let staff members go and will be winding down the business until June, when he has to vacate the premises.

Brighton and Hove City Council and Wildwood Properties Ltd were contacted for comment.