Preston traders affected by improvement works say it's business as usual
Work has startedÂ on the latest stage of improvement work in Preston City Centre including the extension of the Fishergate shared space scheme.
The work, which started on 8 January and will last through to April, has seen a temporary road layout put in place which is reported to be causing some disruption to City Centre traders.
But business owners are stressing to members of the public that they are still very much open for business.
Ham and Jam owner, Richard Lowthian, says he welcomes the changes despite the disruption to his business on Lancaster Road.
The 51-year-old who opened his business three-years ago said: "Things are looking really good especially now that work has begun on the shared space on Lancaster Road.
Twelve weeks of upheaval is obviously going to be challenging for the business but we're really excited about how this will improve this part of the City Centre.
"In terms of what the county council and city council are doing and what the money from the city deal has done, I'm really pleased about what's happening.
"However it will impact on my business in terms of customers as we are enclosed [by the works] but hopefully over twelve weeks, we'll be back to business as usual."
Preston resident David Fairclough, 73 said: "I think it will be an improvement especially if they do a tram service. You need to stop traffic coming into Preston. Fingers crossed I hope everything works out."The council says that the one-way restriction on Lancaster Road will be temporarily reversed while work is completed, with vehicles able to travel from Old Vicarage towards the Guild Hall.
The bus and taxi-only section in front of the Guild Hall will also be temporarily removed during this work with all drivers able to travel towards Church Street.
Lee Robinson, a Hackney Carriage driver who has lived in Preston for 44 years does not believe the new system will work well in the city.
The 47-year-old said: "It doesn't work at all. It looks pretty, it's nice to look at, the investment's great but it's unsafe.
"Where's the crossing for the blind? I don't understand how in this day and age, while we're still in the EU how we cannot have a crossing for the blind."
Shirley Hardman also a Hackney Carriage driver in Preston said: "We take a customer to Santander Bank [on Fishergate]. We have to park on the pavements to get him out.
"It was only last week that a woman said I nearly ran over her pram. I was nowhere near her pram. I had to get onto the kerb because he can't walk.
"No the shared space doesn't work, you're dodging traffic and people all the time." Following feedback on the earlier Fishergate and Church St improvements, changes have been made to some aspects of the design, say Lancashire County Council officers. They say that materials used for the road surface have been changed, to distinguish it more clearly from the pavement, which will be made using similar materials to those used in other city centre improvements. There will also be a clear distinction between the road and a clearly defined pavement – as there is on Church Street and Fishergate. The kerb height will increase slightly compared to Fishergate - to help people to distinguish between the two. Specific taxi and delivery bays will be created with road surfaces, rather than on the pavement, to reduce the chance of damage or spills on the pavement.
County Councillor Keith Iddon, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "It's important to provide a welcoming city centre that appeals to businesses and shoppers."These latest improvements will bring a similar feel to work done elsewhere in the city centre, which we know have helped to attract new retailers and shoppers. "Our highways team planned this phase by taking on board comments and feedback on previous improvements and we've made some changes. We hope that this will help to improve the experience for everyone who visits this part of the city centre." Councillor Peter Moss, cabinet member for planning and regulation at Preston City Council, said: “The next phase of improvement works are very welcome to complete the overall look of the main thoroughfares in Preston. “An attractive city centre is essential to bring in visitors and future investment, and will be yet one more successful element of the Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal.” The stone flags outside the Town Hall and Harris Museum & Library will remain. The flags outside the Miller Arcade will be taken up and reused to repair damaged ones outside the other two buildings, to maintain the appearance of the civic quarter.
A new temporary road layout which has been put in place. Lord Street, at the side of the Guild Hall will be closed to vehicles and Tithebarn Street will close from Crooked Lane. Anyone with questions about the work can find out more by calling 0300 123 6780 or email [email protected]