Long Street shops deserted
BUSINESSES have vacated three Leongatha shops due to the impact of the heavy vehicle alternate route.
Leongatha Dentures will be closing its doors in early February after constant disruption. It is the third shop on Long Street to lose tenants.
“It’s really noisy and the car parking has been changed. People have to open their doors onto the highway with trucks going past and they don’t feel safe,” Leongatha Dentures owner Colin King said.
“Customers also feel unsafe inside. They think one day a truck will come right through the window and I don’t want to be inside if that happens.”
South Gippsland Shire Council and VicRoads gave the business owners plenty of notice about the impacts the bypass construction may have.
However, Mr King felt he had more incentive to leave after council planted grass outside his shop and limited parking spaces.
“There was a bit of a disagreement over the grass because I was expected to mow it. It’s taken up the car park and now I have the responsibility to maintain it,” he said.
The Scott family from Tarwin owns the three shops in Long Street and the loss of tenants has caused them considerable strain.
“The tenants left as a direct result of disruption to their businesses by the bypass construction,” Jayne Scott said.
“Edneys were very kind during all the road works and allowed customers from our shops to park in their car park, but long term, it’s still dangerous to try and cross the road.
“We’ve had no support from the previous shire councillors and yet we are still required to pay full rates for the properties, even though they will all be empty by the end of February. It would be really appreciated if the shire had recognised the impact of the bypass and its construction.
“We will keep trying to seek tenants for these shops, but the lack of shire contact and support fills us with great personal sadness.”
Despite the loss of tenants, Ms Scott said she had supported the concept of the bypass.
“I supported the bypass because it has helped take heavy vehicles out of the main street. The main streets will be cleaner, safer and quieter without the trucks and tankers, but I don’t feel as though the best result was achieved. It should have gone across from Subway to along Hughes Street. Instead, there is a messy intersection that is just not appropriate for a town as busy as ours,” she said.
Ms Scott and her husband Fraser attended all meetings relating to the bypass but were frustrated their concerns were not heard.
“There was a great emphasis on the fact this was a VicRoads/ South Gippsland Shire/Ccmmunity project, but all the community concerns appeared to be overlooked. Nothing significant about the project was changed because of community input and I am yet to meet anyone who supported its current design,” she said.
“It is so sad that local landlords are not supported at all. We have not increased our already reasonable rent in years. We pride ourselves on offering local businesses an affordable and attractive set of shops to rent. We are local people trying to encourage local business by investing in our own town – the town we both grew up in and are raising our children in. It is a very sorry state of affairs.”
Council said the long term plan for the alternate route was to make use of Hughes Street. This has been in the planning scheme for many years, however current traffic volumes and funds available will not require use of this road for at least 10 to 15 years.
Leongatha Dentures will remain in the town, relocating to Peart Street as of February 6.
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