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Business owner expresses 'extreme concern' about ongoing roadworks in a busy Derry street

£255,000 public realm scheme in the Bonds Hill area of the Waterside

Bonds Hill

The work is currently underway in the Bonds Hill area of Derry.

The owner of a Derry health facility is ‘extremely concerned’ about the impact of construction works outside her business as she prepares to reopen.

Work on a £255,000 public realm scheme is ongoing in the Bonds Hill area of the Waterside.

Department for Communities funding will see upgrades to footways, carriageway and lighting.

Construction got underway at the end of January but was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The scheme was designed and is being delivered by the Department for Infrastructure (DfI) and works are due to be completed by the end of June.

A DfI spokesperson said the road improvement scheme will enhance the links for pedestrians and cyclists to the new Transport Hub on Duke Street.

It will provide wider paths that will assist with social distancing and remove a short section of redundant carriageway close to its access with Duke Street.

However, concerns have been raised that the new scheme will directly affect businesses in the area such as Million Dollar Fitness (MDF) and a nearby restaurant.

As premises begin to reopen access to lower Bond’s Hill will be ‘threatened’, a local business owner said.

Proprietor of MDF, Dee McCahill, welcomed the upgrade to the area but believes the works are ‘detrimental’ to the economy and infrastructure at the lower end of Bond’s Hill.

Traffic management and access was a recognised problem before lockdown but has now been exacerbated, she said.

Mrs McCahill told the Derry News that she is concerned about the impact this will have on clients when re-opening is possible.

She said: “There was no consultation before the project started and, to date, no notification of what parking restrictions will be put in place to safeguard access to lower Bond’s Hill.

“This has been an extremely challenging economic time and accessibility is vital if these local businesses are to rebuild following the impact of COVID-19 - any further disruption to business will be devastating."

The businesswoman added: "It's got nothing to do with the roadworks that are taking place. It’s got everything to do with the fact that they have narrowed the road and made our car park virtually inaccessible.

“Street parking must be controlled and road markings positioned to enforce these restrictions. 

“The widened footpaths have reduced the street to single lane traffic when cars are parked on both sides of the street.

“Any delivery or service vehicle that stops on Bond’s Hill – even temporarily - will cause an obstruction.

“If vehicles park opposite, or too close to, the entrance gate at Million Dollar Fitness it is difficult, or impossible, to manoeuvre safely to enter and exit the car park.

“MDF clients use our private car park, however they need to be able to safely enter and exit.”

There is no space for delivery vehicles to access a nearby restaurant, Mrs McCahill said.

“They will be forced to park in the middle of the road, in front of MDF's gate, therefore causing an obstruction and disruption to MDF clients.

“Delivery and service vehicles need unobstructed access to the turning area.  This was a known issue, prior to the improvement scheme,” she concluded.

The return of rail commuters to work who will resume parking on Bond's Hill was also cited as an issue.

In response to concerns raised, a Department for Infrastructure spokesperson accepted there will be ‘disruption’ and acknowledged that not all businesses were consulted prior to work commencing.

The spokesperson stated: “Given minimal changes are being made to the street layout, scheme information boards were erected and letters were posted to all adjoining properties prior to work commencing but the Department is aware that ongoing works are unfortunately causing some disruption and we would apologise for any inconvenience caused.

“Prior to the scheme commencing DfI staff called with businesses that operate in the area to outline and discuss any concerns. Not all were open.

“Now that the Department has been made aware of concerns, DFI will be contacting business owners to discuss any particular issues they have.”

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