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Leongatha businesses brace for massive disruption

BUSINESS owners near the intersection of the Strzelecki Highway and Long Street, Leongatha are alarmed at the impact the Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route will inflict on their viability.

The Leongatha Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route has been planned over an extended period of time in consultation with the community and business owners.

Darryl McGannon the principal dealer at Edney’s Leongatha, though, said the intersection of the Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route and Roughead Street will be bedlam.

With commencement targeted for the end of 2015, construction is expected to take 12 months.

The 18 angle car parks shared by Leongatha Dentures, Business Insight and My Leongatha Beauty Care, the three businesses at the bottom end of Long Street, will be reduced to six parallel car parks.

The project has been designed to remove through traffic including heavy vehicles from Bair Street to make it safer for pedestrians and motorists.
As part of the process, South Gippsland Shire Council will improve the amenity of the town centre particularly Bair Street, with a focus on parking and streetscape.  

VicRoads Regional Director Scott Lawrence said, “VicRoads understands a number of businesses in Long Street are concerned about a reduction in carparking as part of the final design for the Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route.

He said, “Currently customers attending these businesses park in an informal, angle parking arrangement.  
“VicRoads intends to formalise the parking at Long Street near the Strzelecki Highway for the safety of customers attending these business and for passing traffic.
Six new parallel parking spaces and two additional parking spaces will replace the existing angle parking, and as a result the parking capacity will be slightly reduced.

Colin King whose business, Leongatha Dentures, has operated at the site for over two years has a core clientele who are elderly.

He said, “Parking convenience is a high priority to them.”

Michelle Young’s business with 1600 clients on the books, My Leongatha Beauty Care, was established here eight years ago in a location her clients have come to value for its accessibility as well as for the privacy it provides.

Mrs Young will lose all six of the client car parks at the front of her premises and there is no provision in the Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route plans to compensate for their loss.

The middle of the three shops is about to become a dog grooming business, again with significant parking demands.

With so few car parks shared by the three businesses their clients will be forced to park elsewhere and walk, for example in front of Smith’s Hardware which already has limited parking.

Edney’s Mr McGannon is more concerned about the disruption that will be caused by the 12 month construction phase of the Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route and how that might impact on business.

Hearing about the plight of Leongatha Beauty Care and Leongatha Dentures, Mr McGannon said, “It is hard enough for small businesses.”

Eighteen months ago Michelle Young was told by VicRoads, the South Gippsland Shire and her landlord that her business would not be affected.

Now, faced with losing all six of her client car parks she said she sees no option but to move.

The Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route plans have effectively stalled her plans for the future of her business.

New equipment on order has been put on hold she said, “because I might have to spend $60,000 to set up new premises.

“My business is growing, people love coming here. It is my clients who will suffer if they have nowhere to park.

“I have lost sleep. My business could go backwards.”

Mrs Young said the Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route has been a talking point of her clients who have been expressing their own distress at how the Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route will affect access to the business and say that in itself, the prospect of trucks taking the bend outside while they are being treated inside fills them with fear.

Mr King said, “The Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route is supposed to be good for the town but if it is affecting businesses it isn’t.”

Paul Stampton, manager of Strategic Planning and Development at the South Gippsland Shire Council, made the comment that regardless of what the landlord might have put in his tennants’ leases promising each business six car parks, the land in front of the shops does not belong to the landlord but is public land.

He said that a 2013 survey of car parking in Leongatha found there to be a surplus and made the suggestion that a short walk around the corner, on both sides of the Strzelecki Highway more parking is available.

Mr Stampton said that once the new route, a VicRoads project was completed, the businesses would find themselves located in a prominent position fronting the South Gippsland Highway, improving their location.

More detailed information about all aspects of the Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route will be available once a contractor has been appointed to build it.

No parking: from left, Colin King and Michelle Young whose business environment will change once the Leongatha Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route, resulting in the loss of six of the three shop’s 18 car parks, runs past their front doors.

No parking: from left, Colin King and Michelle Young whose business environment will change once the Leongatha Heavy Vehicle Alternate Route, resulting in the loss of six of the three shop’s 18 car parks, runs past their front doors.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=14968

Posted by on May 26 2015. Filed under Featured, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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