Redevelopment is ruining town, claim

A TOWN centre redevelopment is killing businesses and has ruined a market town , according to shopkeepers. Herts County Council and North Herts District Council have invested in a £2.8m redevelopment of the heart of Baldock. It includes reorganising pa

A TOWN centre redevelopment is "killing" businesses and "has ruined a market town", according to shopkeepers.

Herts County Council and North Herts District Council have invested in a £2.8m redevelopment of the heart of Baldock.

It includes reorganising parking to create public open spaces, improving pedestrian links and reducing street clutter.

But it has got traders hot under the collar.

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John West, of Baldock Hardware Store on Whitehorse Street, said: "It's killing us. Our takings are 50 per cent down since this started.

"The roadworks are not helping and the parking spaces that are available are being taken up by workers.

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"I see my customers pull up, they can't get parked and just drive off.

"There's a recession but it breaks my heart when I see people who want to spend pull up and then drive away. It's a double whammy. We are fighting for our livelihoods."

Steve Layton, of Stutley Brothers Ltd, a gun shop on Whitehorse Street, explained: "The reason we took the shop was because we could have the parking outside and now it's being taken off us.

"All our customers moan that they can't park anywhere. If it gets too bad we will have to relocate."

Mr Layton, who has lived in Baldock for 35 years, also said he personally thinks: "They have ruined a market town. The historically interesting Baldock has disappeared.

"I don't think we have had any one of our customers not complain about the debacle they call redevelopment.

"It should have been done by a local company with local sympathies."

Sharon Torry, of Baldock Flowers on Whitehorse Street, said takings are down 50 per cent since the redevelopment work began.

She said parking is horrendous and that: "People have actually phoned and said they don't want to come anywhere near Baldock."

She also thinks the redevelopment is "absolutely awful" and "a waste of money", saying: "We only needed more parking. I don't think anyone is really positive about it."

John Gilbert, of J.O.R Gilbert Ltd on Baldock's high street, has been established in the town for 50 years and claims he has "never seen it so bad".

Of the redevelopment, he said: "It's a mess and it's killing the business."

But Cllr Thake, NHDC's portfolio holder for planning and transport, said the redevelopment is a result of an extensive consultation with residents and businesses over a two-year period and that the scheme was approved by the majority.

He said: "Sadly, it was inevitable there would be some disruption in Baldock but we have worked very hard with the contractors to keep it to a minimum.

"We have also listened to traders' comments and adapted work in response.

"Far from destroying the character of the town, the enhancement scheme will make Baldock a superb place to live, work and visit with a new community area, trees, better paving and just as much parking as before.

"The results will be well worth the temporary disruption.

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