Town traders and businesses have high hopes that the reopening of Tonbridge High Street to two-way traffic will provide a valuable economic boost to the town.
Although companies are still counting the cost of losses suffered during the nine months it has taken to complete the £2.65million scheme, it is still being seen as a key element of the area’s regeneration.
Speaking to the Times last week, Terry Hill, manager of Castle Cars, said he had lost thousands because of the roadworks and was disappointed that Kent County Council is refusing to pay any compensation.
However, the taxi company owner believes the scheme will have a positive impact on the town.
His views are shared by a number of businesses, including Finch House cafe, located within the heart of the works taking place in the High Street.
“I think the work will make a difference for businesses, though it has caused traffic flow problems for those visiting the town,” said the venue’s managing director Daron Goldfinch, who explained his company had flourished in Tonbridge since setting up four years ago.
Julie Reeves, of Gorgeous George gifts, added: “We are relieved that the High Street is open again and hope that it does bring more trade, as many of our customers come from outside the area.”
Tonbridge & Malling MP Tom Tugendhat, who had criticised Kent County Council over delays to the High Street works, said he was pleased the project was finally nearing completion.
He said: “It’s great news that the High Street is finally open. The traffic is flowing again, and I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have said the work is going to make a difference.
“I think county councils should always ensure road-works are done as quickly as possible to ensure the impact is minimal. It is great that it has finally been done here.”
Howard Porter, chairman of Tonbridge Town Team, felt the works, which include a second phase later this summer to improve River Walk, will benefit the town.
He said: “It’s a shame the work has taken this long, but the £2.65million invested will make an impact and we hope that it will encourage business to invest in the town.”