“We were penned in” - Tamarind Tree Thai restaurant to sue council for £10,000 over Norwich All Saints roadworks
- Credit: Nick Butcher
It cost more than £3m and has taken more than a year to complete.
But the revamp of All Saints Green and All Saints Street could put the county council a further £10,000 out of pocket as a local business intends to take them to small claims court for loss of earnings.
Bosses at the Tamarind Tree Thai Restaurant on All Saints Street say they were 'penned in' by the roadworks and suffered.
Bradley Morgan Johnson, partner at the Tamarind Tree, said: 'One of the reasons we took the place in 2015 is we knew they were pedestrianising.
'When we took it, the schedule was a one year turnaround and we were under the impression it would be finished by the end of last summer.
'We have had customers tell us they didn't want to sit and have their lunch and listen to industrial cutting machines carving out thick slabs, and we had to call the council half a dozen times to get them to clean the street.
'Come January, they blocked the access on one side and we were basically penned in. We lost about 80pc of our footfall because everyone was pushed either side of us. When my wife told me we were £10,000 down on last year's figures I knew it had been bad.'
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A claim for £10,000 to Norfolk County Council claims department has been dismissed, which Mr Morgan Johnson said showed 'no compassion'.
'They have completely dismissed it,' he said. 'It is ridiculous they can't acknowledge we have been impacted by unsightly roadworks.
'On the one hand we are being chased for ridiculously high business rates and on the other we are encamped by roadworks. We haven't got a choice.'
In a letter to Mr Morgan Johnson, Norfolk County Council claims department noted the business posted a profit in March and denied the claim.
'The footway outside your property was open for the entire length of the scheme,' they said.
'In this case the loss you have sustained is a pure economic loss, this is not recoverable.
Richard Marks, MD of John Lewis Norwich, agreed the roadworks had been 'challenging' and to have the road open was a 'huge relief'.
'We are delighted by the quality of the open space and it is great that it has been designed so events can take place there,' he said. 'It is all a sign of confidence in the area, and it is all progress.'
Antiques shop is optimistic
All Saints Antiques has only been trading for a year as an antiques shop and tearoom - since the roadworks began.
Robert Charles, partner at The Saints, which runs All Saints' Antiques and St Gregory's in Pottergate, said for some periods their business was completely closed off.
'We can't hand on heart say how much it has affected us because we moved in as the roadworks started,' he said. 'They cleared off for Christmas and we had a really good Christmas. We have only been there a year so we have nothing to compare it to.
'We do think it has affected us but it is impossible to come up with a number. Some days it was dead. At times it was all fenced off and there was no proper way to get through to us.
'The more people you can bring to that area the better. There needs to be some outside traders to bring that square to life. I am very optimistic about the business, but it's nothing to do with what they have done.'
Charity impacted negatively
Difficulties in dropping off donations as a result of the roadworks has caused frustration among customers at the Big C charity shop at the junction with Timberhill.
Staff at the shop said they believed the works had 'impacted negatively' on the business, and customers had regularly complained about the work.
Shop manager Chrisa Humphreys said: 'It is believed by myself and other volunteers that the roadworks has impacted us negatively because it has been going on for over a year now.
'It was just sporadic and we didn't know how sales were going to be. A lot of customers who came in complained about it, and it changed quite frequently what they blocked off and what they didn't. It has been difficult for people to get to the shop to drop donations off, so for the customers it bothered them.'
She added the team remains positive about an increase in footfall.
'I am hopeful about it and the last week has been really good.'
Jewellers had complaints
Albrow and Sons jewellers has been an established business in the area for 30 years.
For that reason they say they did not suffer a noticeable loss of business, but highlighted many of their customers complained about the roadworks.
Richard Albrow, owner of Albrow and Sons jewellers, also said the area could have used some more green space and features.
'We have been here 30 years and we are a busy little shop so we haven't been too affected by it,' he said.
'The public haven't been happy. There has been a lot of confusion, particularly from customers who have come into the city, driven in and don't know what road is closed. There has been a lot of people complaining.
'For the time it took and the money they spent I did think it would be a bit more attractive. The biggest bug bear of mine is there are no bins out there.
'It is certainly better than it used to be.'
Transport for Norwich hopes for boost in local economy
Norfolk County Council has confirmed it have received the claim from the Tamarind Tree and has responded.
Work on All Saints Street and All Saints Green started in January as part of a £3m project under the Transport for Norwich banner.
That scheme has already seen Westlegate pedestrianised and changes to Golden Ball Street, Rouen Road, Ber Street, Thorn Lane and Farmers Avenue.
A spokesman for Transport for Norwich said: 'Throughout work on All Saints Street and Westlegate, the site team has maintained access to all businesses and properties, and kept premises informed of progress with regular updates.
'We appreciate the patience and cooperation of everyone while construction of this large-scale project took place. The transformation in the look and feel of the area is already seeing more people spend time there and we hope the benefits this brings will soon be felt in the city centre and its local economy.'