“The town is open for business” is the message from Diss Town Council and those behind the Heritage Triangle Project after some businesses reported a hit in trade as works take place.
The streetscaping work, which aims to make the Heritage Triangle more accessible and a pedestrian friendly area, will cost about £630,000. It forms part of the £3.4m Heritage Lottery funded project.
Businesses are finding it challenging, so the message must be that all of the Triangle is open for business and that the roadworks aren’t preventing access for shoppersSheila Moss King, programme manager, Diss Heritage Triangle
The work began in April and is expected to run until the first week of July – and, despite traffic lights and diversions, businesses remain open.
Sheila Moss King, programme manager for the Diss Heritage Triangle and Diss Corn Hall Project, said the work was on schedule, although there would be one week longer spent on Market Hill, and one less on St Nicholas Street.
“Businesses are finding it challenging, so the message must be that all of the Triangle is open for business and that the roadworks aren’t preventing access for shoppers,” she said.
Katie Rich, owner of Katie’s Kitchen in Hales Yard, said her business took a “serious hit”.
“It was an absolute nightmare,” she said. “Initially, we were fine for the first couple of weeks, but people were so fed up with it, they stopped coming into town.
“Since then, we have had massive support. Graham Minshll (Diss Town Council leader) has been very, very helpful and is trying all he can to get as many people to the Heritage Triangle.
“Please don’t stay away or our local independent traders won’t be able to survive. We need the local people to keep us going.”
Mr Minshull said he would be meeting with traders next week to offer a package of support to those businesses who have been hurt by the work.
He added that despite the work, all of the towns car parks are still open, and only a few minutes would be added to visitors’ journey times.
“The last thing we want to do is hurt the businesses we are trying to help,” he said. “Interestingly, it has been a mixed picture.
“Some businesses are saying they have been hit, others are saying they have noticed nothing, and I have had one business saying they have had an increase in trade.
“For the most part, talking to the traders, we are saying the town is open for business.”
Catherine Anderson-Mills, owner of Ninny’s Cave in St Nicholas Street, said: “This will be for the good of the Heritage Triangle. The work is going to help these streets.
“The Heritage Triangle is a bit of history, and that’s what people come to see – the Corn Hall and the shops.”
Justine Staines, owner of Fairchild’s Tea Rooms in St Nicholas Street, said trade was slower than it normally would be – but the Heritage Triangle project would boost businesses in the long run.