Traders in a Yeovil street fear construction work next week could damage their businesses.
The planned work to enhance the northern end of Princes Street has been met with mixed reaction by shop keepers. Some welcome the changes, while others fear they will lose customers as the number of parking spaces is slashed.
The improvements include the widening of pavements, introduction of loading bays, repaving, designated pedestrian crossing points, lighting improvements and general de-clutter of the street.
Street furniture already installed during phase one, which was completed in 2010, will be continued further up the road towards the subway. The aim of phase two is to reconnect the subway end of Princes Street with the southern end of the street, to create pedestrian access between the town centre, the college and the hospital and to enhance the character of the street.
South Somerset District Council hopes it will enhance the profitability and appeal of the businesses in the area. However, some traders believe it will have the opposite effect.
Paul Nicholson, owner of Haynes Butchers, said: “We are not happy about it. It’s taking the parking away which is really good at the moment. We are right in the corner so it’s bound to affect us. The 12 parking spaces will be replaced with a loading bay for lorries and parking for two cars.
“A lot of our customers are older people so we might lose customers.”
Chris Freeman, owner of Cafe 50, said he cannot understand why the pavement on the opposite side of the road from his shop is being widened, and not the pavement outside his cafe. He said: “They are trying to create a cafe culture. They are widening the pavement to allow tables and chairs but there are three cafes on the other side. As far as I’m concerned it’s a complete waste of money. They are not helping us. None of us can see the reasoning behind it.”
Terri Burt, co-owner of Mad Hatters fancy dress shop, welcomed the works. She said: “It needs doing desperately. The corner at this end is quite dangerous. They do need some sort of pedestrian crossing. But I am concerned about the loss of parking.”
Mark Bloor, owner of Bloors Pet Stores situated in the southern end of the street, recalled the disruption that phase one of the project caused.
He said: “It does look nice. They’ve done a lovely job but they literally rip the street up and we’ve got customers walking along planks to get into the shop so it’s not good for trade.”
Councillor Tony Fife, area south chairman and portfolio holder for Yeovil Vision, said: “During the planned work, we wish to minimise disruption to shoppers and also traders.
“The northern part of the street will be brought up to the same standard as the southern end and it is hoped the work will be completed in time for Christmas shoppers to enjoy the new improvement work.”
A spokesperson for the district council added: “There will be ample parking in the area with the ‘free’ parking in Court Ash changing from one hour to 30 minutes to encourage increased turnover. Regards the widening of pavement on the North Lane side of Princes Street there are restrictions relating to the turning movements of vehicles turning left or right, there is a need to cater for larger vehicles turning into Princes Street from Park Street to avoid conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.”
The work, due to start on Monday, will be carried out over phases on one section of footpath at a time over the next two months and road closures are expected.
Confirmation of road closure details will be confirmed later but are currently planned for three evenings in November.