Experts look at options to help shops claiming Woods Lane closure has hit trade in Woodbridge

Jill Barrett of Barretts of Woodbridge. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

Jill Barrett of Barretts of Woodbridge. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

Options are being considered to provide help for town centre businesses that have seen trade drop in Woodbridge since a major road closure was put in place.

Woods Lane is hoped to open sooner than first scheduled. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Woods Lane is hoped to open sooner than first scheduled. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A survey of traders in the Thoroughfare showed 27 out of 37 outlets questioned had found takings and footfall down since Woods Lane was shut as part of work to build 180 homes at Longwood Fields at Melton.

Businesses believe the closure is deterring people from visiting.

Some believe compensation should be available to make up for losses while others feels free parking after 3pm or opening up Suffolk Coastal’s old HQ car park on Melton Hill should be considered to ease the problems.

Jill Barrett, who owns home furnishing store Barretts of Woodbridge in the Thoroughfare, said: “Our takings were down 20% in November, then, fortunately, we had a stonking December when the road reopened, but since the road closed again in January we have seen a 15% drop, so there must be a link.

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“It’s very frustrating because this has been going on for four months, which is really shocking – and all that time we have been asking for help.

“We are all still paying our massive rates and rents bills, so we still have our outgoings and our income is being affected.”

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Mrs Barrett felt free parking after 3pm could help, as could use of the Melton Hill car park.

Deputy leader of Suffolk Coastal council, Geoff Holdcroft said: “The Suffolk Coastal officers are still examining options to try and alleviate the trading situation in Woodbridge.

“Parking in Woodbridge is still relatively cheap and the council is going to make a considerable investment in extra parking this summer. I realise that won’t help trade whilst the Woods Lane closure is with us, so they are examining a few options to help.

“Unfortunately, we have got nowhere with getting Bloor Homes to subsidise the cost so if a scheme is to be introduced it will be all the council taxpayers that will ultimately bear the cost.”

Suffoilk Coastal refused permission for the Woods Lane scheme but a Government inspector allowed it on appeal. Suffolk County Council has to permit the road closure for work to install services – the current closure until at least April 13 is for a new sewer. Developers Bloor Homes have been working with highways to minimise impacts on travel around the area.

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