‘Another nail in the coffin for Fakenham’ - road closure plans spark anger

Oak Street in Fakenham could be temporarily closed in December. Picture: Adam Lazzari

Oak Street in Fakenham could be temporarily closed in December. Picture: Adam Lazzari - Credit: Archant

Plans to close a busy road in Fakenham in the middle of December have been met with fury from local business owners, with one calling it “disastrous”.

The application to close Oak Street between December 11 and December 13 was been submitted by Anglian Water and is now waiting to be approved.

A spokesman from the company said the purpose of the work is to connect a new development to a water supply.

They said: “We have submitted an application to the local Highways Team to put a temporary road closure in place on Oak Street in Fakenham between 11 and 13 December. This is so our engineers can connect a new development to their water supply.

“We know how disruptive roadworks can be, that’s why we’ve chosen these specific dates to avoid the busiest days in the town – like market day - and to minimise disruption for local residents and businesses as much as possible.

“All roadworks are coordinated and approved by the local Highways Team and we’re currently waiting to hear from them as to whether the application to undertake this vital work has been approved.”

However, businesses say that the closure will have a major impact on trade as it takes place at the peak of the Christmas shopping period.

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Adrian Vertigan, former mayor and manager of the Salvation Army store on Oak Street, said: “Closing Oak Street in December would be disastrous. It is going to affect the whole street, buses won’t be able to get in, the large Tesco store will have issues with its deliveries and as a charity shop on the high street in December it is really important to us that we are able to receive parcels for our annual toys and tins appeal.

“It is only three days but those are three vital days. They will be closing the main artery in the town. To do that to a town like Fakenham before Christmas is ludicrous.”

Lesley Taylor, manager of Norfolk Hospice, which is round the corner from Oak Street, said the plans are “another nail in the coffin” for Fakenham.

“We are right next to building work which has been going on since 2013 so when you now add this road closure, we’re feeling isolated,” she said. “Fakenham is struggling already and this will have an affect on businesses.

“People will think they can’t be bothered to come to Fakenham as it will be too awkward. Poor Fakenham needs all the help it can get and this is not going to help.”

The concerns of the businesses were echoed by town Mayor, George Acheson, who described the timing of the work as “ridiculous” and said the town council is hoping it can delay the work.

He added: “While I accept that the work has to be done it is ridiculous that they would choose to do it in this pre-Christmas season, which is so important to our local businesses.”

What do you think of the closure? email steve.shaw@archant.co.uk