Stockbridge businesses fear 'detrimental' impact of major road closures for EIGHT MONTHS of gas works

Businesses have warned of signifcant disruption and a “detrimental” impact to shops as eight months of gas works were announced for Stockbridge’s main thoroughfare.

By Conor Matchett
Monday, 21st October 2019, 7:05 am
Updated Monday, 21st October 2019, 9:34 am

Raeburn Place and Deanhaugh Street will be subject to the disruption as part of Scottish Gas Network’s (SGN) £2.2m upgrade to the gas system in the area.

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Independent shop owners added they had not been told about the planned work and called on Edinburgh City Council and SGN to do more to help businesses prepare.

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Deanhaugh Street meets Raeburn Place in Stockbridge and Tom Holmes, who owns Henderson Artshop.

The upgrade will see Deanhaugh Street shut completely for eight weeks from January 6 before the westbound lane of Raeburn Place is shut to traffic for 22 weeks.

Work is scheduled to end by the first week of the Fringe.

Mark Kennedy, 41, owns PrintSponge on Raeburn Place and said it was the first he had heard of any gas works in the area.

He said: “I think it will impact us because a lot of people who use us need to park up and dive in so the parking bays are used for people to be able to use the shop.

Mark Kennedy, owner of Print Sponge.

“They say it is going to be this amount of time but history tells us the chances are it will run on longer than they are proposing, so it is like, when actually is the end of it?

“I understand that certain things have to be done but I do feel when they do these things there is never any consultation or discussion about how it will affect businesses so we can plan for it.

“There are a lot of small independent businesses and it might not seem a lot to SGN but it is a lot for us smaller guys.”

Tom Holmes, who owns Henderson Artshop, added that much of his business comes from those parking outside the shop to collect pictures and frames.

The 32-year-old businessman said: “We do rely on people being able to stop outside the shop to collect pictures and framing and on passing business.

“It could potentially be detrimental depending on how much it affects trade.

“You have to just prepare and have enough in your capital account and hope it will tide you over.”

He added: “I don’t think it will kill business but I remember when they had tram works on Leith Walk and a lot of long-standing businesses went out of business.

“I just hope that there are enough people in the area that will continue to support us and other local businesses but I would say it is not ideal. I am more concerned about the months that are generally busy. If it damages the Fringe, that’s like our second Christmas so next year might be quite tough.”

'Exhausting' Roadworks

Lindsay Butler, 33, works at JustDogs on Deanhaugh Street and lives nearby. She said the work could stop customers bringing their pets to the shop.

She added: “We have a lot of customers who use the parking bays outside so if these are suspended then it will affect us.

“They come in and buy those big bags of dog food and that will be harder to do and will hurt us.

“I cannot even get parked at my house most of the time anyway so that is not going to be great.

“I think it will depend on the footpath situation too. If it affects the footpath we have customers who bring their dogs in and if they are disturbed by drilling they may not want to go past this section while it is going on.”

Cllr Osler said that while the work had to be done, the recent run of roadworks in the area had been “exhausting” for residents.

She said: “We have had Orchard Brae and Crewe Road South and huge amounts of works that have been exhausting. This is going to impact a number of businesses and schools. Yes it has to be done, but it is so important that the work is actually done on time.

“I don’t have a huge amount of faith that it will last just the eight months. If you say it is going to be 22 weeks, it needs to be this and if it is not you need to tell us as soon as possible.”

Conservative councillior for the ward, Iain Whyte, added that it was crucial Stockbridge maintained its “vitality” during the work.

He said: “The timescale is similar to the sort of thing that is going on with tram works but at least with tram works the council has looked at compensation.

“This is not a complete closure but it will definitely disrupt things and if the council can press SGN and work with them to ensure that Stockbridge maintains its vitality during that period then anything that can be done will be helpful.”

Cllr Whyte added that the diversions in place, which will see drivers forced to travel around Inverleith Place, down to Canonmills and back into Stockbridge via Henderson Row, would upset residents.

He said: “Residents in those areas will be very upset that all the traffic has been diverted in their direction.

“I don’t see it being helpful signing traffic through other residential areas.”

Gavin Barrie, independent councillor for the area, was an operational firefighter during the Guthrie Street disaster and said any nuisance or inconvenience was outweighed by the need for the work to be done.

He said: “While these works will be inconvenient, the value of keeping people safe is higher. I have seen very close up what happens when it doesn’t work. It is a nuisance but it is work that has to be done at some point.”

Katie Lobban, spokesperson for SGN, said the company will work closely with the council and aims to have the work finished by August 3 2020.

She said: “This essential work involves replacing our old, metal gas mains with new plastic pipe to ensure a continued safe and reliable gas supply for the local community, and has no connection to the new rugby ground development.

“We’ve split our project into two phases to reduce disruption as much as possible.

“This week, our project manager began personally visiting the businesses in Deanhaugh Street to give advance notice of our work and talk through their concerns. We’ll continue to work with all affected businesses before and during our essential work to ensure minimal disruption is caused.”

A council spokesman said: “SGN is carrying out essential works to ensure a safe and reliable gas supply for residents and businesses in the area. We have been in close communication with SGN in the lead-up to the project and will continue to liaise with them to plan traffic management, helping to minimise any disruption while monitoring progress.”

Works Part of £2.2m Pipe Upgrade Scheme

Raeburn Place and Deanhaugh Street will bear the brunt of the works which should be finished by the beginning of the Fringe next year.

The project will begin in Deanhaugh Street on January 6 with the road fully closed between the junctions with Hamilton Place and Dean Street.

Temporary traffic lights will be in place at the Hamilton Street and Haugh Street junctions for four weeks.

The roadworks will then move on to Raeburn Place with the work extending down to Portgower Place from Dean Street.

The road will be shut going westbound for at least 22 weeks, with a signed diversion in place via East Fettes Avenue, Inverleith Place, Inverleith Row, Brandon Street and Henderson Row.

Parking will be restricted on Deanhaugh Street and Raeburn Place for the entire 30 weeks, with parking suspensions also planned for the surrounding streets at times during the work.

The work will see metal gas pipes replaced with plastic pipes.