Traders say they fear for their future after their shops were put on the market without warning.
Businesses on the Broadway Circle in Blyth have been left in shock after receiving letters out of the blue from Northumberland County Council saying the row of six properties were going up for sale.
And, in a further blow, the traders have been told they cannot buy their individual units as the authority is looking to sell the block as one lot.
It means the businesses fear the new owners could put up their rents, force them out or demolish the buildings to make way for something else.
Lisa Charlton, who has run Broadway Hair for eight years, says traders feel let down.
She said: “After numerous inquiries to the council for a new lease or to buy the property, Blyth Valley then Northumberland County Council always assured me that I would be given first refusal to buy if they were ever to come on the market.
“Then, out of the blue, I got a letter stating the properties were going up for sale.
“I contacted the council who told me not to worry it was just a change of landlord.
“When I requested to buy my property I was told I could buy it but would have to buy the whole block of six.
“I feel I have been let down and lied to by the council.
“I’m concerned that if developers or any new landlord buy the properties the rents could be increased.
“I can’t see why they won’t sell the properties to the existing businesses who are currently renting them.”
Richard Comb, whose family have been running Broadway Bakery for 30 years, said: “There has been no consultation, just three days’ notice.
“I thought the council would have given us the opportunity to purchase the freehold. We don’t know what might happen. The new landlords could put up rents or flatten them for new properties.”
A spokesperson for Northumberland County Council said: “The council is currently testing the market on a number of sites in Northumberland, including a block of six retail units on Broadway Circle in Blyth which are being sold as a single lot.
“The council would welcome an offer from tenants to buy the six units together, but won’t consider the sale of individual units at this stage.
“Selling the block together will mean that the units are managed and maintained together which will ensure a good offer to residents.”
“The council has identified opportunities to generate over £33m in capital income, contribute significantly to economic growth and regeneration and make annual savings in running costs of £3.4m by selling of surplus buildings and ensuring all our remaining properties are fit for purpose.”