An electricity company has ripped up a brand new pavement just months after it was laid as part of a £3.4m flagship Preston city centre project.
A section of street outside the former HSBC bank at No.40 Fishergate was revamped at the end of last year. But the distinctive flagstones have been torn out to make way for work on a new Sainsbury’s.
Electricity North West will pay for the damage to be repaired, but the situation has been branded “ridiculous” and neighbouring businesses said the long-running street works had already caused them a “nightmare”.
Coun Christine Abram, who previously dubbed the main shopping street a “death trap” for pedestrians, said the work was causing “double disruption,” adding: “I think there is enough disruption already.”
Plans submitted by Tesco to make alterations to other premises on Fishergate have also been approved, with the aim of bringing the vacant units back into use as a Tesco Express.
Coun Abram said she was concerned the same issue could happen when works began outside the premises at 82-83 Fishergate.
She said: “Is it to be repeated across the road? It’s ridiculous.
“I just find the whole thing ridiculous. When I come out of Mount Street I just think ‘What a mess’.
“Friday lunch-time is when I see it and it is gridlock.
“I always think what happens if there is an accident on that stretch towards Debenhams - how would you access it with an ambulance or police car?”
Work on the landmark Fishergate Central Gateway Project is due to be ongoing until the autumn. The project’s aim is to make the city centre more pedestrian-friendly, but local business said the weeks of disruption had been an “absolute pain”.
A spokesman for Moka, which has a branch on Fishergate, said they were losing customers as a result of the works.
The spokesman said: “It is constant, the dust, the noise, and we are losing customers because of what they are doing outside.
“With it being summer, people don’t want to sit outside with the noise.
“I’ve seen people trip over, it’s just been a bit of a nightmare.”
He added: “We haven’t even suffered the worst of it because they haven’t started the work outside our shop yet.
“But even with it being across the road, there are no barriers to stop the buses coming close to the shop, they only put a couple up, so we have had to bring our tables back.
“Customers are constantly talking about it and saying it’s a waste of time and it’s dangerous.
“It’s just an absolute pain.”
A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said the authority was working closely with the architects for Tesco, and had made “slight changes” to the Fishergate scheme to complement and work with their plans.
Paul Dunne, Lancashire County Council’s highways manager for Preston, said: “The paving was removed by Electricity North West to upgrade the electricity supply for the new supermarket moving into the former bank building.
“The supermarket plans came to light after the start of the £3.4 million Fishergate Central Gateway project. New ducting was laid along Fishergate in preparation for this work, to minimise the disruption and this resulted in only a minor excavation being required now. We carried on working on Fishergate in case these supermarket plans never went ahead.
“Once the connection is completed, the contractors carrying out the work on Fishergate will reinstate the paving to the same high-quality specification, with Electricity North West covering the cost of the work.
“One of the main aims of the £3.4m Fishergate project is to attract investment to the city centre, so there’s a positive to seeing other work going on around us as it happens, even if it causes some added disruption in the short term.”
A spokesman for Electricity North West said: “Our engineers have been installing a new underground electricity cable to supply power to a new supermarket on Fishergate, Preston.
“After receiving approval from Lancashire County Council, we started work on August 7 and we will complete the work next week.
“We apologise for any inconvenience and assure residents that we will be working with the local authority to fully reinstate the pavement to its original state.
“If anyone would like any further information they can contact us on 0800 195 4141.”