The closure of a Knaresborough car park for major refurbishment work has caused disruption for nearby businesses.
Work began on the car park at Conyngham Hall on Monday, March 14, where an investment of £97,000 has been made by Harrogate Borough Council for resurfacing works.
While apologising to businesses that were not informed of the closure, Coun Rebecca Burnett, cabinet member for planning and sustainable transport, has insisted the decision was necessary to carry out essential work.
Coun Burnett: “The council made the decision to close Conyngham Hall Car Park in March to carry out resurfacing works, as it is less used at this time of the year and would cause the least disruption.
“We are investing a lot of money in making this car park a better place for residents and visitors to use; it is a significant investment and helps people get to Knaresborough to visit, shop and support the local economy giving the right first impression when people come to this stunning market town.
“We do realise though that there is rarely a good time to do work on a car park as it will always mean a short closure. It is though impossible to answer the many calls to resurface the car park and also keep it open at the same time. Clearly you cannot resurface a car park which still has cars parked on it.”
Knaresborough Chamber of Trade echoed concerns over the lack of notice before the work was carried out but has supported the calendar choice by the council to cause the least disruption.
President of the Chamber, Steve Teggin said: “The Chamber of Trade does not like to lose vital car parking in the town but to be fair to the council they seem to have selected a three week period with no bank holidays so it will have the least impact.
“If they could have given more notice, this impact could have been reduced. We have a high number of members of the chamber and we could have told them about the work happening with more notice.”
A section of the car park was re-opened for a council run work shop on Wednesday morning, organised to support new businesses who are struggling in their first few months of life.
Coun Burnett: “On the morning of Wednesday 15 March, a small area of the car park was used by attendees of a Gateway Enterprise Workshop run by the council. This event, which was organised some time ago, is designed to support new businesses who may be struggling in their first few months of life, and we felt it was important to keep that commitment if at all possible.”
Sadly the effect of the closure for nearby businesses like the Ugly Duckling Cafe, run by Vicky Wright and Stephen Bradbury since August last year, has been devastating as they have been forced to watch customers drive away.
Mrs Wright said: “We are not happy, we had no visitation or letters, we just saw the car park was closed when we came in. We can see our customers turning in and then driving away down the street because of this.
“On an average weekday we get 50 to 60 customers and on a weekend over a 100, yesterday we had 10, this has cost us a substantial amount of money.”
Heavy machinery required for work on the site was not available at the time according to the council, allowing for a short gap where the car park could be re-opened for its workshop.
However it will not be available for the public’s use until work is finished.
Coun Burnett said: “Ideally, we would have liked a small area of the car park to be kept open for the public’s use whilst the work is taking place, unfortunately this is not possible if we are to ensure the work is completed safely and quickly - our aim is to have this brilliantly upgraded facility re-opened as soon as possible. To ensure we can do this, we have no further plans to use the car park until the work is complete.
“I would like to apologise to those businesses who did not receive notice of the closure. We have contacted a number of the businesses in the immediate vicinity and will continue to update them on the work we are undertaking.
“We have also erected additional signage outside of the car park today to ensure drivers are aware of its current closure.”