The pedestrianisation of High Street has become something of a saga. Traffic jams, inconvenient detours and a whole lotta rubble have left retailers and the public alike feeling frustrated. And the latest twist? Cardiff Council hoped to pacify tensions surrounding the roadworks this week by announcing they will be suspended in the run up to Christmas. But just days after the announcement, they discovered retailers are claiming up to half a million pounds in compensation because the roadworks have damaged their trade.
The Castle Quarter Tenants’ Association, which represents the 53 shops in the Castle, High Street and Duke Street arcades, hopes to win £10,000 compensation per trader. If successful, the total damages could reach a whopping £53,000.
Retailers claim customers have been driven away by the noise and inconvenience of the roadworks on Castle Street, and the pedestrianisation of High Street.
Hairdresser Anna Constantinou, who runs the 30-year-old family salon in Castle Arcade, is organising the collective claim on behalf of the tenants’ association. Ms Constantinou told the Echo: “I really do think we have got a strong case. There’s no doubt we have lost money. We have lost our walk-in custom. The council has killed every single season for us.”
The newspaper reported 21 retailers have confirmed they back the claim or are seriously considering it, but some are unsure and others said they would not claim.
Harriet Davies, owner of the New York Deli in High Street Arcade, told the Echo the business rate rebate, which worked out at around £300 per business, was welcomed but was nothing compared to the money lost. She said each business had already proved they had been directly affected by the roadworks, winning a 5% discount in business rates.
A Cardiff council spokesman said traders had experienced “inevitable inconvenience”, but disruption had been minimised and businesses will benefit when the work had been completed.
The £2.5 million roadworks will be suspended from November 14 and will not return until January. David Hughes-Lewis, chairman of Cardiff Retail Partnership, said he was delighted with the decision. “If they had carried on with the pedestrianisation work until a week before Christmas it would have such an adverse effect on business,” he told the Echo.
Castle Street will be closed every Sunday to allow contractors to finish the new junction with Westgate Street and the new pedestrian crossing outside the castle.