BUSINESSES in York’s Gillygate fear a massive roadworks scheme – which is set to shut the street to vehicles for six weeks – will hit trade.

They say they are worried that, while pedestrians will be able to walk along the street during the roadworks, many will be deterred by the inevitable noise and disruption.

As reported previously in The Press, the street is to be closed from February 22 to allow for Northern Gas Networks to replace 260 metres of old metal gas mains with plastic pipes to safeguard supplies in the area for decades to come.

Martin Gore, co-owner of Café No 8, said he was worried about the road being closed, not because customers would be unable to get to the café, but because they would be deterred by the noise.

He said: “When the road was closed for resurfacing a few years ago, it was very inconvenient and the noise was very off-putting for people having their meals on an evening. However, when they moved down to the other end of the street away from us, we actually found it very peaceful."

Barry Bainbridge, manager of Wackers, said: “The noise is going to put a lot of people off, so it’s definitely going to affect us. I think it will hit us mostly because a lot of buses and coaches use Gillygate and many of the elderly people we serve travel that way. We do have our own car park though, so that will help. We’re relying on a good customer base to see us through. We’re not happy, but there’s no way of knowing how it will affect us yet.”

Eileen Simmons, manageress of Gillygate Framing, said: “The noise will be a problem, but what can we do?"

Suzi Ainley, owner of the Sanctuary restaurant, said: “We are quite concerned about it. We have to work quite hard to bring trade to this street. It is outside the city centre and we are concerned how this will affect us."

Helen Wilson, spokeswoman for Northern Gas Network, said: “We apologise for any inconvenience while these essential gas works are carried out. We are doing everything we can to keep disruption to a minimum, and pedestrian access will be maintained to the shops at all times. We would encourage people to support local traders – they are very much open for business throughout the work.

“It’s all part of our £82 million gas main replacement programme this year to ensure that our system remains one of the safest in the world.

“The good news is that our new plastic pipes are more durable and flexible and have a lifespan of at least 80 years.”