Weeks not months, Ottery road should be reopened by Christmas

Silver Street road closure viewed from the library. Picture: Claire Wright

Silver Street road closure viewed from the library. Picture: Claire Wright - Credit: Archant

Reopening one of Ottery’s main routes will take weeks not months say experts as they continue to work on buildings affected by a major fire last month.

Silver Street road closure viewed from the library. Picture: Claire Wright

Silver Street road closure viewed from the library. Picture: Claire Wright - Credit: Archant

The road closure on the corner of Brook Street and Broad Street was initially set to take up to five months, following the blaze in a flat above the Pine Store, on September 14.

Ottery’s community called for a unified approach towards the road closure at Monday’s town council meeting to support businesses and the upcoming Tar Barrels event.

Diversions and emergency scaffolding have been in place since the fire, which has concerned representatives from the group.

An alternative proposal to the scaffolding had been suggested to try to regain access to Silver Street but on Tuesday, it was confirmed as not possible.

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Rob Wickham, event organiser for the Tar Barrels, said the tradition will go ahead but the committee faced many ‘headaches’ if the scaffolding remained in place as they estimate up to 15,000 people will head to the town.

Road closures will be in place from 3.45pm on November 5 in Jesu Street which, with the additional road closures, would result in cars driving down ‘unsuitable’ roads for two-way traffic.

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Mr Wickham said: “As far as the police and fire and everybody is concerned, we are still going ahead.

“What we have got to try and resolve is what is going to happen to the scaffolding and how we mitigate the problem around that.

“We need to unify and find a plan of action and try to move this forward as quickly as possible, so we can protect the scaffolding, protect the business and protect the visitors in the town that night.”

Ruud Jansen Venneboer, on behalf of Ottery Business Forum, again urged that the town was open for business.

He added: “I am sure it won’t come as a huge surprise to you that quite a number of businesses in Ottery operate on very tight margins and that for them, even a small percentage in terms of reduced business can mean the difference between survival or closure.

“Once we start losing businesses, a downward spiral will be very hard to stop.”

Mayor Paul Bartlett said businesses would be invited to a meeting on October 18 to discuss the impact of the road closures.

Devon County Council said the alternatives would not enable the road to re-open while work was ongoing.

The spokesman said: “It’s in everyone’s interests to undertake the reconstruction work as safely and as soon as possible, and we welcome that.”

Cllr Claire Wright said: “I’m very relieved that this is not going to be in place for months. I know the insurers and the builders are doing everything they can they can to step up the process and fast track it so the road can reopened. They cannot do any more. The business community does need support.

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