Road closures across city lead bosses to warn of bankruptcy

There are many road closures in Norwich at the moment which is crippling traders like Mark Woodhouse, pictured inset 

There are many road closures in Norwich at the moment which is crippling traders like Mark Woodhouse, pictured inset - Credit: Ben Hardy

Roadworks around the city have infuriated businesses which say trade has ground to a halt, with some bosses fearing they won't be able to keep the doors open if the disruption continues.

Sweet Briar Road, Riverside Road, Thorpe Road and St Stephens Street are among the key routes where works are currently taking place.

And for businesses located near the works, the impact has been severe. 

Worrk progressing on the £6.1m shake-up for St Stephens Street, one of the main shopping areas in No

Work progressing on the £6.1m shake-up for St Stephens Street, one of the main shopping areas in Norwich city centre - Credit: Steve Adams 2022.Tel : 07398238853

Paul Dowrick, owner of Goodlife Homebrew in the Sweet Briar Road Industrial Estate, has seen trade fall by at least 50pc ever since a burst water main damaged an embankment on the outer ring road in mid-February.

Before the road closed, Mr Dowrick was turning over as much as £6,000 on a single Saturday. 

Paul Dowrick, owner of Goodlife Homebrew in the Sweet Briar Industrial Estate 

Paul Dowrick, owner of Goodlife Homebrew in the Sweet Briar Industrial Estate - Credit: Ben Hardy

But in April he made just £5,000 across the entire month.

Mr Dowrick said: "It has been the perfect storm of Brexit, Covid, Ukraine and this road closure which could bankrupt us.

"It just makes me think: 'Is it worth renewing the lease in September and walk away to do something else?'"

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The brewer is also a scientist and has resorted to researching modern bed bugs and filming homebrewing videos to keep himself busy in the shop.

Jack Lain-Rogers, branch manager of Denmans electrical wholesaler in the Sweet Briar Industrial Estate said: "This road closure is causing real grief.

 Jack Lain-Rogers, Norwich branch manager of Denmans 

Jack Lain-Rogers, Norwich branch manager of Denmans - Credit: Ben Hardy

"It's hurt business because we have customers who live in the Bowthorpe and Costessey side of the city who can't get to us easily. 

"There has been a 50pc downturn in trade from that side of the river since the closure." 

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: "While Anglian Water work to repair and reopen Sweet Briar Road we have stopped any planned roadworks on the official diversion route.

"Future utility and maintenance works are being carried out now while the road is closed to cut future disruption.”

Not only has the closure affected customers accessing businesses, it has also added to delivery driver journey times.

Mark Woodhouse, owner of Woody's Snack Bar said this has been the toughest trading period in his 23 years serving hot drinks and bacon baps in the industrial estate.

He said: "Sweet Briar is a link road and it's just not happening at the moment. I can't see why they can't work down there 24/7 with floodlights."

Mark Woodhouse of Woody's Snack Bar in Norwich 

Mark Woodhouse of Woody's Snack Bar in Norwich - Credit: Ben Hardy

An Anglian Water spokeswoman said the company will be starting the pipe repair next week with the work currently expected to be completed by the end of May.

Road closures in the city are also having an impact for those on routes where traffic is being diverted.

Riverside Road's closure means more cars are whizzing along Rosary Road instead.

Ivelin Milenov, of the Rosary Road Convenience Store said: "The traffic has become too bad now and some people avoid coming here because they can't park.

"I live the other side of the road and it is not safe to cross when I am with my son, who is eight. It is noisy day and night."

Ivelin Milenov who lives and works in Rosary Road in Norwich 

Ivelin Milenov who lives and works in Rosary Road in Norwich - Credit: Ben Hardy

It comes as a 12-week road closure has started this week in Thorpe St Andrew's Birkbeck Way for pavement reconstruction. 

This is just a five minute drive from where Aerodrome Road is also closed while a £330,000 project to install new cycle lanes in St Williams Way continues until mid-June.

Work taking place in Birkbeck Way next to the Co-op car park in Thorpe St Andrew 

Work taking place in Birkbeck Way next to the Co-op car park in Thorpe St Andrew - Credit: Ben Hardy

Dawn Mallett, 60, who lives in Birkbeck Way said: "My husband has multiple sclerosis and my biggest fear is that we will need an ambulance.

"My husband will be walking to the doctor's rather than taking the car."

Dawn Mallett, who lives in Birkbeck Way in Thorpe St Andrew 

Dawn Mallett, who lives in Birkbeck Way in Thorpe St Andrew - Credit: Ben Hardy

Karl Rands, highway services manager for the county council said: “Better road and path surfaces, new drainage, improved gas or water pipes, faster broadband, new pedestrian crossings and cycle paths all mean there will be a need for roadworks.

"While it’s difficult for maintenance and improvements to be carried out without any disruption we work hard to coordinate road closures and work with utility companies to minimise any impact as far as possible.

Traffic chaos on Dereham Road due to the closure of Sweetbriar Road because of a burst water main.

Traffic chaos on Dereham Road due to the closure of Sweet Briar Road. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2022

"Official diversion routes are planned and clearly signed."