Warkworth retailers are furious at a planned partial closure of Neville Street by Auckland Transport (AT).
Retailers and café owners on Neville Street complain the closure will be devastating for businesses and threatens their livelihoods and jobs.
AT have advised the partial closure of Neville Street between Queen Street and Alnwick Street will start this month and continue until early June.
The closure is primarily to make repairs to the road due to its deterioration, rather than repairs to the footpath as earlier communication with AT suggested.
The owner of Geoff’s Emporium on Neville Street, Jerry Lamb, says the planned closure could cripple his business, especially if already limited parking becomes unavailable.
Local businesses are already suffering because subcontractors working on the Oaks on Neville development have been illegally parking for lengthy periods in the few spaces available.
“Auckland Transport are a law unto themselves. They don’t give a rat’s razoo about local business,” Mr Lamb says.
Mr Lamb says his older customers don’t care to walk up Neville Street and are reliant on being able to park nearby.
He says if sales drop significantly he might be compelled to lay off staff.
Mr Lamb’s concerns are echoed by Picnix Bakery & Café owner Cassandra Sok and Asahi Japanese Cuisine owner Daniel Kim.
Ms Sok says the café business is extremely competitive in Warkworth. Customers who can’t park close to Picnix will likely take their business elsewhere and continue to patronise the new establishment even when Neville Street re-opens.
Mr Kim says his business could cope if the closure was for a few days but the thought of a closure for several months was “very stressful”.
Vice chairperson of the One Warkworth Business Association Mark Macky says the Neville Street closure could not have come at a worse time for retailers given the disruption already being caused by the Oaks on Neville development.
“We have got a massive project underway right in the heart of Warkworth, and we are ripping up and rebuilding one of the main roads in town. That just does not seem sensible or logical at all,” he says.
“This will have a major impact on retailers who are already under pressure.”
As Mahurangi Matters went to press, Mr Macky was seeking an urgent meeting with Auckland
Transport senior managers in an effort to have the project delayed at least until the Oaks on Neville development is complete, which is expected to happen in June.
But AT spokesperson Mark Hannan offered little hope such a delay could take place.
He says the project is required to be completed within the financial year, which ends in July.
Mr Hannan says AT will be meeting with local businesses over the coming weeks, informing them of the works’ progress and ensuring any disruption is kept to a minimum.