Businesses at Norwich’s Hellesdon Barns counting down the days until Hellesdon Hall Road reopens

Staff and shop owners at Hellesdon Barns are happy that the road they're on is re-opening soon. Left

Staff and shop owners at Hellesdon Barns are happy that the road they're on is re-opening soon. Left to right, George Cassidy, Pippa Jarratt, Maria Rogers, Tina Self, Magnolia Assis-Millbank and Paul Millbank. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Beleaguered traders are today hopeful that business will soon be booming again after the last few months were ruined by major roadworks.

Staff and shop owners at Hellesdon Barns are angry that they hadn't been consulted about the closure

Staff and shop owners at Hellesdon Barns are angry that they hadn't been consulted about the closure of Hellesdon Hall Road. The building works at the new Sweet Briar Retail Park.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Shopkeepers at Hellesdon Barns, in Hellesdon Hall Road, are counting down the days to October 18, when roadworks which severely damaged their summer trade are due to end.

It all started in May, when the business owners were shocked to find signs telling them the crucial route would be closed for 14 weeks, later upped to 18 weeks, to make way for an access point to the first store on the new Sweet Briar Park retail development.

The work surrounding the Wickes store, which is due to move from Drayton Road this month, had the businesses worried it would have a devastating effect on trade, and now they say their fears have been realised after months of disruption, and little help to advertise they were still operating.

Magnolia Assis-Millbank and her husband Paul are the landlords at Hellesdon Barns, and also run the Shackleton Cafe.

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She said: 'At the moment we don't get any passing trade, not like last year. The road is due to reopen on October 18, so we're hoping things will go back to normal then, but one thing that's interesting is that we haven't had much help, we had to spend our money on signs to say we're still open.'

Pippa Jarratt, who opened Dotty Pottery with friend Rebecca Walker two years ago, added: 'It's been a nightmare. Up until the road closed we have been going from strength to strength.

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'We've still had customers but they've been birthday parties, things that were already booked. But even they have had to go the back way and we've had people getting lost - the diversions are long.

'It's affected the whole site. We've not had people popping in, they're having to make an actual trip. It's hard for small businesses anyway to get on, and now we'll be into the winter months again.'

The closures affected 10 businesses at Hellesdon Barns while the road was widened and work was done to ensure utility services could be accessed.

The developer-led project was not instigated by the city or county councils, but has prevented vehicle, cycle and pedestrian access for the full duration.

Another business which saw a fall in customers was Curtains and Curiosities, where owner Maria Baker said it had hit her store hard.

'It's been really bad. There have been times where I've been here and not seen anyone for two days. That's a big difference from what it was like before the road closed. It's not usually majorly busy but we would have people come in.'

She said she had still seen some customers, but these were the regulars or those going to a party at Dotty Pottery.

'It hasn't been people just stopping when they were driving past,' she added.

As spokesman for Wickes said: 'As part of a wider redevelopment project, which includes a new Wickes store opening, it was necessary to close a nearby access road. Considered to be the safest option in order to complete upgrade works to both the road and traffic light junction, public access to local businesses was made available. This redevelopment project will benefit the community long-term; having said that, we understand the current frustration and would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused.'

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