Traders blame roadworks for massive sales fall in Lowestoft

Peter Cook is unhappy with the length of time roadworks are taking. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Peter Cook is unhappy with the length of time roadworks are taking. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Traders have reported a massive reduction in profits this year as a result of over-running roadworks in Lowestoft.

The roadworks in London Road North, Lowestoft. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

The roadworks in London Road North, Lowestoft. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Business owners in London Road North say work taking place outside their shops as part of a larger scheme to create a cycle network has been driving customers away.

And they say the situation has been made worse by the large number of roadworks elsewhere in the town, which they say have caused traffic jams and make Lowestoft an unattractive place to visit.

However, Darren Newman, manager of Lowestoft Vision business improvement district (BID), said that while it was 'very frustrating the works have taken so long', the investment would help to make the town more accessible.

Peter Cook, co-owner of Cooks Furnishers, said the footpath was closed beyond his business, meaning he did not get any passing trade and people were avoiding the area because of the noise and dust from heavy machinery.

Work on the cycle network started in January and was expected to take six weeks but is still ongoing. It has included the closure of the pedestrian crossing between London Road North and High Street and the creation of a temporary crossing near the police station.

Mr Cook said: 'Footfall is terrible. We don't get anybody walking past our shop now.

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'People are being diverted away 30 metres before our shop.

'We have seen it reflected in our sales. At the moment I would say we are at least 30 per cent down.'

The project to create the cycle network is being run by Highways England and has seen roadworks spring up throughout Lowestoft.

Tracey Doolan, of Tracey Jane in London Road North, said the workmen were using the top of the road to store building materials and the metal barriers used to cordon off the site gave the impression the area was closed for business.

'It has been chaos,' she said. 'The takings are about 50 per cent down since this all started. Some days we are taking no money at all and it actually costs us to open the shop.'

A Highways England spokesman said the majority of work to the crossing between London Road North and the High Street would be completed this month.

She added: 'Most of the work has been carried out under off-peak lane closures using two-way traffic signals or overnight to minimise disruption wherever possible. Our contractors on site have been providing updates to the shops on key activities throughout the work via letters and in some cases in person.

'We will need to return at a later date to complete the signal work and resurface sections. When the work is finished the existing controlled pedestrian crossing will be removed and replaced with a realigned crossing along the High Street, including new signs, surfacing and pavements to its approaches.'

For the full story, with further reaction, pick up this week's Journal.

What do you think? Email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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