Fears Ottery St Mary road closure will ‘devastate’ business

Road closed sign

Road closed sign - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Commitment to shorten timescale welcomed but concerns remain

A planned six-week road closure has been shortened following fears it would ‘devastate’ trade in Ottery - but worries remain about its impact.

Business leaders and councillors have welcomed the concession from South West Water (SWW), which has cut work time to two weeks, but say they are still concerned.

The closure along Tip Hill to Gerway Lane - for the utilities company to connect a new David Wilson Homes development - follows a string of recent road disruptions.

Chair of the chamber of commerce Viv Abbott said: “We were deeply concerned about another road closure affecting a main route into the town. It tends to devastate business. Two weeks is better than six and we will keep our fingers crossed that they will keep it in this timescale.

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“Having one big road closure after another has a very detrimental knock-on effect in the town and we would ask any developers coming in to keep work time to a minimum.”

She remained critical that business owners were forced to lobby for the timescale to be changed and argued everything should have already been done by developers and associated companies to mitigate the effect on the town.

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County councillor Claire Wright took up the cause after hearing people’s concerns and said it was ‘galling’ that the community should suffer because of new housing developments.

She said: “Six weeks was completely unacceptable.

“Two weeks is going to be difficult because it’s peak tourist season, but I’m really pleased that the time has been reduced significantly.”

Angela Glanville, of Arc Pottery in Wiggaton, said: “In an area of tourism, a road closure even of two weeks is very unwelcome and it’s regrettable that neither the developer, SWW nor Devon County Council thought it necessary to consult with anyone first.”

A spokesperson for SWW said: “By using directional drilling techniques (instead of digging up the road and then resurfacing it), we have been able to reduce the amount of time we will need to close the road from six weeks to two weeks.”

The company confirmed the road closure was likely to start at the end of July and said a signed diversion would be in place.

A David Wilson Homes spokesman said the firm was keen to minimise inconvenience to residents and businesses and was working with SWW to reduce the impact.

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