Road closures hit trade after major fire in Ottery town centre

Fire crews at the scene of Ottery blaze. Picture: Clarissa Place

Fire crews at the scene of Ottery blaze. Picture: Clarissa Place - Credit: Clarissa Place

Ottery’s roads have been left bottle-necked and ‘chaotic’ in the wake of a major fire that caused severe damage to a number of properties and shops in the town centre.

Road closures remain in place following the blaze which broke out in a top floor flat above The Pine Store, on the corner of Brook Street and Broad Street, last Friday morning.

Almost 30 firefighters, including The Pine Store owner Martin Shaw-Parrott and his son Kristian, were quickly on scene to prevent the fire spreading.

A fire service spokeswoman said the ground and first floor of the building were 80 per cent damaged by water with the second floor 100 per cent damaged by fire.

Gold Street and Brook Street remain closed with diversions in place down Batts Lane which have seen cars reversing in and out of Yonder Street and Sandhill Street during peak times in the morning and evening.

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Town, district and county council have been involved in the operation to ‘minimise disruption’ and prioritise public safety.

EDDC’s building control team put up emergency scaffolding and has been at the scene assessing the building which has been badly damaged with the roof and internal timbers all but destroyed.

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An EDDC spokeswoman: “As a result, the road outside the premises has remained closed and is likely to remain closed until the roof can be replaced. Once this work has been completed it should be possible to scale back the scaffolding and reopen the road.”

Councillor Claire Wright has met with senior highway and building control officers this week to discuss the issues facing residents and traders.

Cllr Wright said: “There are many implications for a long term road closure such as this and all need to be considered. At the very least it may affect trade at a time when traders can least afford it.

“Ottery is full of tiny little lanes which were built for horse and carts.

“If there is one message, we are doing what we can, just bear with us. It’s really difficult for the residents who live here, it’s awful for the people who have been directly affected.”

The councillor said she would be attending a business forum meeting to discuss the impact the fire has had on traders over the last week.

Traders met to discuss the road closures and urged shoppers that the town was still open for ‘business as usual’.

Ruud Jansen Venneboer, from the business forum, said: “It really is business as usual in the town. The town needs people to come in and shop, eat and drink more than ever before. People have seen that trade has been down since Friday because people are avoiding the town.

Councillor Paul Bartlett, Mayor of Ottery, said: “Everything is being done that can possibly be done. I’m asking the population of Ottery to be patient.”

Stagecoach buses will be diverting its 4, 4A and 4B services via Fairmile Lane picking-up and dropping-off by the delivery road of Sainsburys and travel via Barrack Road to resume its usual services up Gosford Lane.

On the day, the community rallied to help those most affected helping to evacuate nearby flats and the Crusty Cob served up hot pasties and sausage rolls to on-call firefighters.

Alan Gilson, incident commander at the scene said: “My crew worked extremely hard and professionally to contain the fire from spreading to the nearest properties.”

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