City retailer condemns planters and market traders for disrupting deliveries

Street planters outside The Dressing Room in St Albans.

Street planters outside The Dressing Room in St Albans. - Credit: Matt Adams

The closure of a major city centre road is still provoking controversy months after it was enforced to promote social distancing measures.

Seven huge metal cube planters have been plonked into the road right outside exclusive boutique, The Dressing Room. 

As well as there being a question about the unsightliness of the massive square constructions, they, along with street traders, are blocking access and impacting owner Deryane Tadd's business. 

Deryane said: "I have approached Herts County Council about the road closures on numerous occasions.

"However the issue of access remains.  We have had various deliveries returned to our suppliers due to couriers not being able to navigate the restrictions in place.  It is just making everything more difficult at a time when things are difficult enough. 

"I have now been assured that despite what it says on their website, these are temporary closures imposed due to emergency COVID measures and that they are to aide social distancing. Thankfully the huge planters have now, at least, been planted up to look more appealing." 

She said that the BID has been helpful in moving certain stalls to enable access and added: " I will just be thankful when the road closures are removed and the road is open as usual again and access to my business is not compromised."

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BID manager Denise Parsons said the planters were introduced by Herts county council as part of emergency Covid plans, and the pop-up markets had been organised to support those businesses which could not trade indoors.

"Like any other city around the country that has pedestrianisation the delivery companies will normally work out a plan with their clients. To assist the county council has created a new loading/unloading bay just round the corner at the top of Verulam Road."

She said they had evidence of increased footfall in the area since the roads were closing, but the BID had been feeding back concerns from residents and businesses to the district and county council.

Denise revealed that consultation on long-term pedestrianisation will be started in 2021 and added: "We would encourage all the businesses in the New Year to sit down with us and work out a plan together that works for the majority of retailers and residents."

A spokesperson for Herts county council said: "Herts county council has been working with St Albans district council and the BID over the last few months to create a safe and usable environment for the benefit of shoppers, road users and businesses in relation to COVID-19. This is to ensure that appropriate social distancing can occur and that pedestrians can use the space in a safe way. 

"The BID has been engaging with businesses in the area to ensure that they understood the new arrangements for deliveries (both loading and unloading) which are able to take place each day between 7am and 11am – these slots are controlled by the St Albans Parking Team who unlock the gate to the street each morning. Sufficient loading bays are still available on the opposite side of the street during these times.”