Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Building work next door is driving away custom, says shopkeeper

A SHOPKEEPER has demanded compensation after claiming her trade has been hit by a lorry parked in front of her

A SHOPKEEPER has demanded compensation after claiming her trade has been hit by a lorry parked in front of her premises in Henley.

Georgina Henderson previously claimed in March that her takings had been halved while an industrial container was left outside Foam Fashion, in Hart Street, for a month.

She now believes the effect has been 10 times worse as a cement mixer has regularly blocked the entire shopfront from shoppers and created loud noise.

There has also been a skip constantly positioned in the road outside, surrounded by metal fencing, and diggers transporting material to a neighbouring construction site in Squires Yard.

Two houses are being built and the work is expected to last 10 months.

Ms Henderson, 50, said: “We’ve got the problem back 10-fold because we’ve now got a big cement mixer in front of the shop.

“We’ve had a couple of zero days when work has gone on. On Tuesday last week (Sept 24) it was hell on earth because there was no trade at all - it was awful.

“The work is going to be going on for a couple of months shifting rubble.”

Ms Henderson, who has owned the shop for eight years, said she had been disrupted during two of her most profitable periods.

She said: “It’s just so frustrating - they had us in March, which is one of our busiest months with new stock after winter.

“It’s a really good month usually when it picks up and helps us cope with the two bad months before.

“In September and October with the winter crawling in we’ve got new stock in again and it’s usually a good time for us but it hasn’t been. It seems to lie on us just as the season changes.”

Ms Henderson, who lives in Duke Street, said she had no issue with Court Park Properties, which is project-managing the construction site on behalf of owners River 88.

It has obtained a licence from Oxfordshire County Council to use the parking spaces outside Foam to park vehicles and store building materials for 18 months but has placed a sign on the metal fencing saying the shop is open.

But Ms Henderson believes she is due compensation from the council to subsidise her loss of trade.

She said: “I’m not opposed to progress whatsoever and it’s really good that they are doing the building work but the council is receiving money for the construction and the space it’s using.

“I’m still paying full rates from a private landlord but the council has completely ignored my trade. I should receive compensation.

“It would cost a lot to move and I haven’t got any money coming in. Why should I move because of the construction work?”

Shop manager Georgi Cort, 25, said the work began in the first week of September and business had been at its worst when it coincided with the closure of New Street.

She said there had been two days where nothing was sold, while there have been about eight days where sales have been under £100.

“It’s been so obvious when the work has been going on and there have been days when I’ve had one person walk in all day,” she said.

“I’ve worked here for two-and-a-half years and I’ve never seen that happen. We’ve survived the recession and got a good customer base and I was shocked to be here on my own all day. It’s not normal for us.

“Sometimes the trade doesn’t even cover our outgoings. Georgina is my friend and I do feel really passionate about the survival of the shop.

“I’ve watched so many shops go in Henley recently and you get this fear that you are next.”

Miss Cort said diggers have also been using the pavement, causing some pedestrians to think the whole area around the shop was closed off.

She said: “It puts you off walking down there because it doesn’t look good or very inviting.

“When the cement mixer comes it gets dark in the shop and I can’t see outside because it’s right in front of the window. It’s just completely taking up everything.”

She said the cement mixer was also very noisy and had deterred some shoppers from coming in.

“We’ve had people come in since it opened again but it’s definitely noticeable,” said Miss Cort. “Whenever they started doing things outside the shop people don’t come in at all.

“I’ve had someone walk in with a buggy and get halfway up the steps and turn around because of all the noise from the cement mixer.

“People aren’t going to want to come in and shop if all they can hear is banging and crashing.

“Even if I have music on in here you can just hear the clunking of the metal. People in the fitting room say ‘how can you put up with that noise all day?’

“If they’re saying that then people aren’t going to want to come to the shop.”

A county council spokesman said: “We requested that the developers speak with affected neighbours to let them know of the need for them to place a skip in the highway and they informed us that they had done this.

“The council is obliged to licence skips on the highway, particularly when there is no other available alternative, as is the case here.

“The developer could, in the interests of goodwill, put up a sign on the skip to ensure people know that the shops are open as usual.”



ends

A SHOPKEEPER is demanding compensation for loss of trade due to building work next door. Georgina Henderson, who owns Foam Fashion in Hart Street, Henley, claims her business has been devastated because:

lA cement mixer regularly blocks her entire shop front and is noisy.

lA skip is positioned in the road outside, surrounded by metal fencing.

lDiggers transport materials to and from the construction site.

Two houses are being built in neighbouring Squires Yard and the work is expected to last 10 months. Mrs Henderson, 50, also complained after an industrial container was left outside the shop for a month in the spring.

She said: “We’ve got the problem back tenfold because we’ve now got a big cement mixer in front of the shop. We’ve had a couple of days when we took nothing as work was taking place. On one day there was no trade at all — it was awful.”

Ms Henderson, who has owned the shop for eight years, said: “It’s just so frustrating. We’ve already had this in March, which is one of our busiest months with the new stock after winter and helps us cope with the two bad months before.

“In September and October, with winter crawling in, we’ve got new stock in again and it’s usually a good time for us but it hasn’t been.”

The building work is being managed by Court Park Properties on behalf of the site owner, River 88. The company has obtained a licence from Oxfordshire County Council to use the parking spaces outside Foam to park vehicles and store building materials for 18 months and has placed a sign on the metal fencing saying the shop is open.

Ms Henderson, who lives in Duke Street, believes she is entitled to compensation from the council for the loss of trade.

She said: “I’m not opposed to progress and it’s good that they are doing the building work but the council is receiving money from the spaces being used but I’m still paying full business rates and rent to a private landlord when I haven’t got any money coming in.” Shop manager Georgi Cort, 25, said the work began in the first week of September when it coincided with the closure of New Street for roadworks, which caused traffic chaos in the town and hit trade.

She said the shop had sold nothing on two days and sales totalled less than £100 on eight others.

“There have been days when I’ve had one person walk in all day,” she said. “I’ve worked here for two-and-a-half years and I’ve never seen that.

“We’ve survived the recession and have got a good customer base but I was shocked to be here on my own all day. Sometimes the trade doesn’t even cover our outgoings.

“Georgina is my friend and I feel really passionately about the survival of the shop. I’ve watched so many shops go in Henley recently and you fear that you are going to be next.”

Miss Cort complained about the diggers on the pavement, causing pedestrians to think the whole area around the shop was closed.

“It doesn’t look good or very inviting,” she said. “When the cement mixer comes it gets dark in the shop and I can’t see outside because it’s right in front of the window.

“Whenever they start doing things outside the shop, people stop coming in. I had someone walk in with a buggy and then turn around because of the noise from the cement mixer.

“People aren’t going to want to come in and shop if all they can hear is banging and crashing. Even if I have music on in the shop you can just hear the clunking of the metal. People say ‘how can you put up with that noise all day?’”

A county council spokesman said: “We requested that the developers speak with affected neighbours to let them know of the need for them to place a skip in the highway and they informed us that they had done this.

“The council is obliged to license skips on the highway, particularly when there is no other available alternative, as is the case here.

“The developer could, in the interests of goodwill, put up a sign on the skip to ensure people know that the shops are open as usual.”

lWhat do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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