Long Stratton villagers air disappointment at by-pass blow

Matthew SparkesSmall businesses in Long Stratton have expressed their disappointment that a planned bypass will not be built to divert heavy traffic around the village.Matthew Sparkes

Small businesses in Long Stratton have expressed their disappointment that a planned bypass will not be built to divert heavy traffic around the village.

Council chiefs have admitted that it is unlikely that the �35m needed for the A140 bypass project will be found before planning permission for the scheme runs out in June.

Local councillor Alison Thomas said that the busy road "dissects the village" and that campaigning for a bypass was one of the main reasons she became a councillor.

"It's so frustrating. For me as a resident it's a real blow because I feel Long Stratton has been let down so many times," she said.

She said that despite some people's fears over loss of passing trade, local firms could actually benefit from a bypass.

A quieter road and a more relaxed atmosphere could lead to an increase in shoppers, she said.

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"With the traffic it puts people off pottering around."

Royston Owen, who bought a caf� on the A140 in Long Stratton three years ago, said: "I'm disappointed because I was looking forward to the fact that it would be a nice quiet road."

Despite an estimated 18,000 cars passing the caf� every day, they account for very little of Mr Owen's customers.

"We're supported by local people. A lot of them come from the village, so whatever happened, we'd be all right," he said.

"If you're stuck in the rat run you're not going to pull off."

Wendy Chesham, 47, who runs a nearby bookshop and lives in an attached house, said that her business could have actually increased if the bypass had been built.

"There might be parking on the side of the road if there was a bypass, which would make it easier for people to stop here," she said.

"At the moment you get people going through, but not actually stopping. It's a disappointment, but we're not surprised."

But despite the majority of business owners being in favour of the bypass, there are no funds to construct the three-mile bypass unless a private investor can be found.

Paul Austin, whose family has run a chip shop in Long Stratton for 32 years, said he believed there was no chance of a bypass until the A11 had been completely dualled.

He said that the bypass would not have affected his business much as many of his customers are both loyal and local.

"If there wasn't all the traffic coming through it would be a much nicer environment and that would bring people in," he said.

Dave Hipperson runs the Swan Inn, which sits just feet from the A140.

He said that his main concern was from the pollution and dirt caused by heavy traffic, which is forcing him to repaint his pub for the fourth time in 11 years this summer.

"When there's people sitting outside I'll put out a tub of water for dogs and within half an hour you've got a film of oil on top," he said.

"I don't derive much business from passing trade anyway. The traffic's going to pass before they even know a pub's here," he said.