Stevenage Co-op could remain shut for 'next few weeks' after flooding damage
PUBLISHED: 17:29 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 17:29 28 October 2019
Symonds Green residents in Stevenage could be left without grocery supplies and a post office for a further "few weeks" after heavy flooding shut the Co-op branch last month.
The Neighbourhood Shopping Centre in Filey Close - which houses Co-op, Md Chemist, and two hot food takeaway joints - suffered serious flooding after construction of 22 apartments above the stores left them exposed to heavy rain.
Contractors working on the privately-owned premises put down tarpaulin, but water seeped through - causing serious damage to electrical equipment.
The Co-op was forced to close in the final week of September, and a spokesperson for the branch has indicated the store could remain shut "for the next few weeks".
There is particular concern - with the Old Town Post Office at Waitrose now closed - that Symonds Green residents have been left without access to a local post office.
90-year-old Toomie, who lives in the Symonds Green area, says elderly residents who rely heavily on the store are "suffering", and have had to journey into Stevenage Old Town to buy essential groceries.
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"It's a small shop, but people do their weekly shop there," she said. "I'm one of the lucky ones. I have a daughter who lives locally who takes me out in the car.
"But I saw my friend Rose the other day struggling with four pints of milk. She had to go into the Old Town and was somehow carrying it all back on her own."
Md Chemists, next door to the Co-op, has remained open in obligation to its NHS contract, but water has leaked into the building and at one stage staff were forced to deliver prescriptions to the door.
Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor said the council is aware of the situation and is providing extra support to vulnerable residents, via their Supported Housing team.
Cllr Taylor said: "We understand the Symonds Green Co-op is a much-used service, and we know how valued it is among residents. We have been reassured by the developer that the situation won't happen again."
The site has been visited by SBC's Building Regulations and Planning Control team, who were given assurances by the owner and contractors that a weather-proof cover will now be in position until the building reaches roof level.
A Co-op spokesperson said: "We are working hard to make the Symonds Green store safe for our colleagues and customers after it was affected by flooding caused by ongoing building work taking place in the properties above. We hope to reopen the store in the next few weeks."
The agent of the owner of the premises has been approached for comment.