Fed up business owners on a popular city centre street have bemoaned gas network upgrades which are set to cause a further six months of misery.
Work will commence on upgrading the gas network in the Broughton Street area on Monday and is expected to take around 26 weeks to complete.
Gas distribution firm SGN say the £500,000 upgrade is essential and involves replacing old gas mains with new plastic pipe that will endure for years to come.
However, the roadworks are set to cause a significant headache for motorists and business owners in the coming months, who have already experienced disruption from the nearby St James development and the closure of Leith Street.
Things could escalate further in the future if the proposed tram extension to Newhaven is given the green light.
Co-owner of Concrete Wardrobe, James Donald, said: “It is appalling. The top of the street has been open, closed, open, closed due to the St James development. Small businesses are suffering and we’ve not had enough support as to how to deal with the situation. We are seeing a lack of footfall without this now.
“I’ve been open here for 18 years and for the first time I’ve decided to close the shop on a Sunday during January and February to help alleviate the issues.
“We want to be open and thriving but it is difficult. I understand there is never a good time to do this work but in all these years this is the trickiest it has been.”
The project will initially centre on Broughton Street between York Place and the London Street roundabout and will mean the closure of northbound traffic for roughly 12 weeks, with parking restrictions put in place for residents.
The work will then move to London Street and Forth Street which will involve the closure of Forth Street in two separate sections with diversions and parking restrictions also put in place.
Leslie Robb of Kathy’s Knits said: “It is such a very long time. We don’t know why it is going to take so long. We are going to lose footfall on the street with people browsing in the window. Combined with the St James development and the new trams it is just providing more disruption that we’ve had to live with for the past five years. It is all bad for business. There is a need to make clear that the businesses on the street are open as usual.”
Councillor Karen Doran, vice transport convener, said: “As roads authority, we have worked closely with SGN to minimise disruption to the road network and to make sure they’re communicating the plans with the local community. Pedestrian access will be fully maintained throughout the project and we will keep a close eye on progress so that works don’t over-run their anticipated end date.”
SGN hosted a drop-in session yesterday at St Mary’s Church to answer questions from residents and businesses.