BUSINESSES who feared they would suffer water works after major tram building disruption have been granted a reprieve.
Scottish Water had been due to begin work on Haymarket Terrace by September, increasing the size of the sewer to reduce flood risk.
But yesterday utility chiefs announced the project – expected to last six months – will now be held off until 2017.
Vacancy rates in the West End rose to 14 per cent in July 2013, with many traders blaming the tram development.
Scottish Water insisted it had listened to business owners’ concerns and that delaying the works would help with their continued recovery.
“Postponing the work will help avoid short-term disruption to the local business community, following the recent completion of tram works in the area,” a Scottish Water spokesman said.
“We remain committed to carrying out this work, which will help reduce the future possibility of flooding in the event of prolonged heavy rain.
“In the meantime, we will continue to monitor the local waste water network to ensure it performs to the highest possible standard.
“When the work takes place in 2017, we will liaise closely with affected customers, stakeholders and businesses to minimise inconvenience and ensure road users are given notification of any necessary closures or diversions.”
Earlier this summer, Scottish Water uncovered “large quantities of particularly hard rock” which must be removed and revealed that it will also be necessary to divert a gas main.
News of the works sparked a mixed reaction from traders, with some welcoming the delay and others saying they should “just get it done”.
Erica Stahl, owner of gift boutique Pippin, said: “I’m happy they have pushed it back but I know there are people who have experience flooding who are unhappy. They want the work done sooner rather than later.”
Sharon Anderson, whose shop Designer Cake Boutique has been flooded six times, said: “It’s slightly disappointing that it’s going to be delayed again. They should just get it done.”
Kim McBride, who has run staff recruitment firm Premier Connections for the past 30 years, said the works would create “yet another blow” to passing trade, adding: “Unfortunately we have been affected by floods in the basement but to take this length of time to get something done is ridiculous.
“Haymarket is the gateway to Edinburgh and we have had disruption after disruption from trams to taxis to sewers.”
Amanda Ramsay, owner of Fleur de Fleur, believes it would have been “better” if the long-awaited works had been coordinated with the tram works.
Transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds said: “We welcome Scottish Water’s plans to postpone these roadworks, which will allow for sufficient planning to minimise disruption for people travelling through Haymarket.
“Original proposals to dig the street up this year were not acceptable, so I am pleased we will be able to work with Scottish Water to reduce the impact of the works on traffic later down the line.”