‘MAJOR’ roadworks have begun in The Street, Bramber, closing the road for three weeks and diverting buses away form the village.
The £30,000 project will remove three speed bumps which are causing damage to nearby historic properties, including Grade I listed St Mary’s House.
The damage is caused by vibrations when heavy vehicles go over the speed bumps.
“This is a major piece of work which I am pleased to have championed at the request of local residents,” said county councillor David Barling.
Following a public consultation with residents in December, West Sussex County Council contractor Balfour Beatty has begun work to remove the speed bumps and upgrade the underlying road surface.
During the consultation, all The Street residents were invited to a public meeting, at which the ‘overwhelming majority’ voted in favour of the plans.
Two residents objected on safety grounds, saying removal of the bumps would increase traffic speed.
The council accepts this risk is likely but says the majority of residents are prepared to accept it.
Pedestrian access will be maintained at all times on both sides of The Street, and householders on each side of the section being worked on will be notified in advance.
Mr Barling said there would be ‘limited inconvenience to individual residents’.
“We are working with the county council to minimise inconvenience to residents and businesses but this is now a major project which will have a long-term benefit to The Street,” he said.
But the works could spell bad news for businesses, especially the post office, newsagents and pharmacy in Upper Beeding High Street.
Sue Plautz has owned Beeding Newsagency for 20 years. “This is a really, really big problem,” she said. “We have had no notification at all. The most information we have had was what was in the Herald last week.”
Sue said she understood the works had to be done, but said she could not understand why they had not been done last time the road was closed.
“Eight weeks closed out of 52 has a massive effect on our trade,” she said.
Sue said she would try to keep the shop open as she could not expect her staff to take a wage cut just because trade was down.
“Generally, customers are amazingly loyal and they will find a way,” she said.
“But traders are probably affected the most. The pharmacy, post office and newsagents are core trades.”
Sue said lack of information and conflicting signs being put up in the village were making it impossible to plan ahead.
“I don’t want to moan, but times are hard enough for small traders,” she said.
Owner of St Mary’s House, Peter Thorogood, 87, threatened to sit in the road when the humps were first put in more than 20 years ago.
He said this was a victory for conservationists and the history of the village.
“I feel very pleased indeed, because the framework of this old house is going to last a lot longer,” he said.
Mr Thorogood said the old houses across The Street ‘must be shaken to bits’.
Two accidents in The Street were reported bet- ween December, 2010, and December, 2013. Both involved buses at the west end of The Street and a council report said the humps may have been a contributing factor.
Mr Barling said he was delighted the upgrade was being carried out.
“Residents have long been asking for the three middle speed bumps to be removed and replaced with other traffic calming features.
“I am hopeful that after a short period of disruption there will be a very long-term benefit to residents.”
On average, around 2,000 vehicles travel in each direction in The Street every day.
Bramber Parish Council chairman Roger Potter said: “I am very pleased that we have at last begun the changes to The Street that the vast majority of the residents have wanted for so long.”