Finkelgate in Norwich: What on earth is going on?
Long awaited work to re-open a city road closed since Christmas is being held up because a decision has yet to be made on whether nearby homes will need to be demolished, council bosses have revealed.
As nearby businesses say the closure of Finkelgate has hit their trade, it has emerged that investigations have been completed into what caused subsidence in the street and led to massive cracks to appear in one of the terraced homes.
Finkelgate, which connects Queens Road with Ber Street, has been shut since Christmas Eve, when the subsidence was spotted.
But the Evening News understands that chartered building surveyors established some weeks ago that the subsidence was caused by a gap caused by water or another feature in the chalk below the road.
However, council bosses said they are unable to start the work which would enable the road to re-open while the insurers decide whether nearby homes should be rebuilt or demolished.
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Until that happens the road is no nearer to re-opening and a number of businesses in nearby Ber Street are becoming increasingly fed up with the way the road closure, at a vital junction leading in and out of the city centre, has hit trade.
A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council, said: 'We are very keen to see the issues at Finkelgate resolved and we are waiting to start repairing the road.
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'However, the houses on Finkelgate are private, and their owners are currently in discussions with insurers about the future of their homes.
'Until a decision is taken on whether the houses are to be demolished or retained and mended, we are unable to do the work to the road.
'Each option requires different work from us and if we start work now before the decision there is a high probability it would need to be dug up and done again.
'We cannot remove the scaffolding as the building is currently in danger of falling down and there is a serious risk to public safety.
'We are in contact with the insurance company and pressing hard for a decision.'
In the meantime, businesses in the area say their trade has been hit, with people put off from heading to that part of the city.
They also say that, because traffic has to negotiate the trickier junction where Ber Street meets Queens Road near the Ber Strete Gates, it causes rush hour queues.
Nigel Barrett, from Barretts Fish and Chip Shop, in Ber Street, said: 'I think it has affected trade in the mornings.
'Instead of turning down Finkelgate from Queens Road to get to Ber Street, people are now probably just driving on, and don't know there's another turn-off into Ber Street near the Ber Strete Gates pub.
'The sooner they get Finkelgate reopened, the better.'
Shona Kelly Bridge, owner of the Tanning Lounge in Ber Street, said she had noticed a fall in trade.
Shona said: 'I think I've lost customers who used to come in after work. A couple of families used to come in at 6pm.'
John Goulder, manager of Gerald Giles in Ber Street, said it had affected the flow of traffic along the street.
He said: 'I advise people to avoid Ber Street during rush-hour. It's always snarled-up near the Ber Strete Gates pub with traffic turning right onto Bracondale.'
Richard Marks, general manager of John Lewis, in All Saints Green, said there were too many factors at play in the retail world at the moment to be able to say whether the closure of Finkelgate had hit trade.
But he said: 'It is an irritation and anything that makes it harder to get into the city centre is not welcome. 'However our car park is still filling up. I did talk to the council a couple of weeks ago about putting some diversion signs up to make clear people knew how to get into Ber Street from Queens Road and I'm glad to see they have done that.'
As reported in the Evening News, four terraced homes had to be evacuated on Christmas Eve after extensive cracks appeared in the house closest to the entrance to Notre Dame High School.
The Fire and Rescue Service went out again the next day and found the condition of the home had deteriorated and signs of subsidence in Finkelgate itself.
The road was closed to traffic, which has remained the case ever since, while it is understood some people who had to leave their homes have still not been allowed back.
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