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Summer roadworks bring chaos to Hampstead

PUBLISHED: 11:37 02 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:03 07 September 2010

The roadworks in Hampstead

The roadworks in Hampstead

Traders in Hampstead are already feeling the bite of roadworks being carried out by Thames Water as part of a 14-week project. The utility company began ripping up sections of Heath Street and Hampstead High Street last week to replace the leaky water pip

TRADERS in Hampstead are already feeling the bite of roadworks being carried out by Thames Water as part of a 14-week project.

The utility company began ripping up sections of Heath Street and Hampstead High Street last week to replace the leaky water pipes and now pedestrians must squeeze past safety fences along the pavements where the two roads meet while the mechanical roar of diggers drowns out conversation.

Tula Kritharis, the owner of Bacchus Greek Taverna in Heath Street, said business rates should not be charged while the disruption.

She said: "Someone from the council should come and walk around and see what's going on and speak to traders, but so far we have seen no- one."

Betty Hodkinson, of the Henry and Williams Flower Company, said: "We are going to be inconvenienced, but everybody is in the same boat.

"If it had been all in one go it would have been a disaster, but they're doing it in sections, at least. It's got to be done - so it's either this or we have floods."

One resident of East Heath Road, who asked not to be named, told the Ham&High she had been kept awake by the sound of rumbling heavy duty vehicles passing along the road outside her home.

"The lorries were doing at least 30mph and the noise was just extraordinary," she said. "It's like living on the M1 but without the reduced housing rates of living on the M1. And there's a lot of wildlife in the area as well - we are going to get an awful lot of squashed animals before this is finished."

Seraphine, a clothing shop in Heath Street featuring designs for pregnant women, found that trade was slow.

Assistant manager Ola Mizymska said: "It's just been one day so far but I think it definitely will affect the business. Especially when you're pregnant and you see all this dust and noise, you can't be bothered, can you?

"Most of our customers are regulars. When people see that the access to our shop has been reduced, we hope they will use our online business."

In Flask Walk, May Theresa Fawkes, of Daunt Books, described the situation as chaotic - especially with trade already affected by engineering disruptions on the Northern line.

Further down the High Street, where serious roadworks are yet to begin, Gail's Bread and Cafe Rouge still bustled with customers dining merrily, although some traders in that part of the street were apprehensive about what could happen.

Christian Mollura, of the Coffee Cup, said he did not know whether or not roadworks would eventually take place directly outside the cafe, although a blue question mark had ominously been sprayed onto a paving slab outside the cafe.

"Yesterday business was already down - it was eerily quiet," he said.

But not everyone was putting quiet trade down to Thames Water - further down the High Street at Mr Simms' Olde Sweet Shoppe, staff reported that it was down simply to the school holidays rather than roadworks because most of their customers walk to the shop.

Over the next two months sections of Fitzjohn's Avenue, Hampstead High Street and Heath Street will remain closed or reduced to one lane.

A spokeswoman for Thames Water apologised for the disruption in East Heath Road on Sunday night, and said it would only be a one-off because all the equipment and vehicles were being readied for the following day's work. She also confirmed that the 14-week timescale is not expected to be exceeded.

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