'It was like a graveyard': Businesses on Norwich street rejoice as tower scaffolding is removed
PUBLISHED: 13:25 20 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:25 20 April 2019
Businesses have expressed their joy after scaffolding which dealt a blow to trading was removed from a central Norwich street.
Shops on Westlegate have suffered more than a month of reduced footfall after scaffolding was put up around Westlegate Tower, which was damaged by high winds during Storm Gareth.
But on Saturday morning they turned up to work to a welcome surprise – the scaffolding had finally been removed.
Although the street was completely closed to traffic while the scaffolding was in place, a pedestrian thoroughfare was created past the front of the interiors and design store Paula Gundry and Evans Cycles.
But, speaking following the road's reopening, businesses said there had been a knock-on effect.
Samantha Purnell, manager at Noa Noa, said the women's clothes shop had been “like a graveyard” during the closure.
“It has had a massive impact on footfall. It has been very demotivating,” she said.
“This morning it was good to see that it was open and as soon as the shop was opened it was busy. I think other people will probably agree.
“It has been manic this morning, much busier than it has been. It just goes to prove the point that it was very disruptive to have the road closed.”
Jodie Sibley, Adnams store manager, said shop owners and managers made an appeal to Norwich City Council when the road was first closed on March 14 to add a caveat to the “road closed” signs that businesses were open as usual, so as not to deter pedestrians.
“We found that it had an impact,” she said. “Adnams and Evans are larger companies but a lot of these are independent businesses and it is a bit of a shame when people are not coming up [the road].
“It has been frustrating but I am so pleased that it is open now.”
Three businesses – Paula Gundry, Evans and Warings Lifestore – were forced to close completely in the days following the incident before the pedestrian thoroughfare was opened.
Watsons Property Management, which looks after Westlegate Tower, had reportedly been given a deadline of April 21, Easter Sunday, by the local authorities to take the scaffolding down.
However, there is a chance it could go back up in the future to permanently fix the damage.