Disruptive revamp irks Kilbirnie retailers

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 05:00 25/01/2013
Bay Rd
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

STREETWISE: Asia Gallery owner Paul Rivers Paul Rivers says council roadworks are turning away shoppers and hitting businesses hard in the pocket.

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Kilbirnie retailers are angry after Wellington City Council stopped work on the Bay Rd shopping centre revamp from happening at night.

Asia Gallery owner Paul Rivers said large fences, footpath detours, long waits at traffic lights and "confusing" car parking had been turning customers away since the $1.4 million beautification project began in August.

Contractor Transfield Services sought approval to carry out construction at night but its permit was withdrawn by the council after two days last week, because two people objected.

Bay Rd was also reduced to one-way traffic earlier this week - further compounding the problem, in the eyes of retailers - and will be that way until the end of April.

Mr Rivers said getting the work done at night would ease the problem of semi-blocked shops, which had contributed to a "big reduction" in customers.

"Why haven't 30 retailers got more of a voice than a few people whose sleep may be affected?"

The roadworks had also transformed Bay Rd into a hazard, Mr Rivers said.

Beveridge Locksmith Services manager Chris Ross said his business had seen about a 30 per cent drop in customers. "People just don't want to park their car and then have to walk."

Heather Smith, of Jackie's Boutique, said many of her customers were elderly and would not shop if they could not get a park close by. January was traditionally her busiest time of year but there had been a lot of very quiet days this month.

Kilbirnie town centre upgrade project manager Stephen Simpson said that, in addition to the residents' complaint, Transfield had its permit withdrawn because it wanted to work right through the night, but a bylaw prevented any work beyond 11pm.

Working during the day and evening was too strenuous on staff, but the council was looking at bringing in a sub-contractor to allow that to happen, he said.

Council spokesman Richard MacLean said it would be reviewing the project today with a view to reducing the disruption to businesses.

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- The Dominion Post

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