Traders upset over build on St Clement's car park told to think of the future (From The Oxford Times)
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Traders upset over build on St Clement's car park told to think of the future
TRADERS in East Oxford have been told to look to the long-term benefits of student flats being built over the St Clement’s car park.
Businesses say the temporary car park in Marston Road, which Oxford City Council has created while the building work takes place, is not being used and trade is plummeting.
But city councillor Colin Cook, the executive board member for city development, said traders should not be so downbeat.
He said: “Shopkeepers have got to look to the long-term when those students move in and will be buying goods or services from the retailers in the area.
“If they are in difficulty then it would be an option for them to apply for a business rate reduction but clearly they would need to be able to demonstrate that there was cause and effect there.
“We could always do more to promote the temporary car park but I believe we have advertised it as much as we can.”
Businesses say they have seen customer numbers drop by up to a third, with shoppers either still unaware of the temporary car park or simply staying away from St Clement’s because of the inconvenience.
Only five vehicles were parked in the car park opposite the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies when the Oxford Mail visited last Tuesday at 1pm, with three there at 4pm, despite the offer of free parking for up to two hours and free bus journeys to St Clement’s.
Clinton Pugh, owner of Café CoCo in Cowley Road, said he would only be opening the bar from Thursday to Sundays with the loss of five jobs, because of the fall in trade.
He said: “I estimate that the loss of car parking has cost us £40,000.
“I came here more than two decades ago and this is the first time the business has lost money.”
Patrick Clacy, of the And So To Bed store, said: “In effect all the things we told the council would happen when we were fighting the redevelopment have happened.
“There are fewer people visiting the area.
“Initially we were slow to notice the effects but as word has spread that St Clement’s is a problem area few customers want the hassle of getting to us.”
Watkin Jones began building the 140 student rooms above the car park in April but this means that during construction work there will be a reduction in the number of spaces from 120 to 37.
Work is expected to be completed next August.
City council spokesman Chris Lee said: “Traders have not raised concerns over trading conditions directly with us during this time.
“We expect that this development will benefit traders in the long term.”
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