Regulars ‘instantly gone’ as Bath St upgrade effects felt

Empty tables outside The Perc Cafe, in Stuart St, as the first stage of the Bath St upgrades...
Empty tables outside The Perc Cafe, in Stuart St, as the first stage of the Bath St upgrades project gets started. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
A Dunedin cafe owner says more than a dozen regular customers are "instantly gone" after roadworks arrived outside their central city door.

The first stage of the Bath St upgrades project started this month, with road cones and trucks making themselves at home between the Octagon and Bath St, in lower Stuart St.

The Perc Cafe co-owner Sarah Hussey said she had always known her business would experience a drop-off once the work began, but had not expected it to impact her business so suddenly.

A group of up to about 15 regular customers were "instantly gone" once the roadworks began and Mrs Hussey said there were about two customers at the cafe early yesterday morning.

"Honestly, I’ve never seen it so quiet," she said.

"It’s like it’s just happened overnight, the tap has been turned off."

Mrs Hussey said she was no longer as optimistic about the roadworks as she had been, and was expecting the disruptions to worsen.

People were reliant on their cars and the roadworks had put people out of their routines.

Some customers may not be willing to brave the impending winter weather to to travel to their regular cafe on foot, she said.

"By the time this is finished we’ll just be off their radar.

"They would have found a new place to go that has parking and that will be their new go-to."

Mrs Hussey said she hoped customers would continue to support the business throughout the disruptions.

"I just don’t want us to be completely off people’s radars forever.

"I don’t think I realised just how quickly the tap would be turned off."

Gallery De Novo co-director Richelle Byers said the work was a necessity but it had still caused disruptions to their Moray Pl store.

The roadworks had reduced the number of nearby car parks which made it difficult for customers to pick up their purchases or framing, she said.

"I feel like Dunedin is sick to death of orange cones.

"Seeing it in fruition now it’s like here we go, here’s the sea of orange cones back."

Ms Byers said she was anticipating the disruptions to get worse before they got better, but the business was prepared as much as it could be.

A council spokesman said the work under way in lower Stuart St affected the block between the Octagon and lower Moray Pl, but only until the middle of next week.

Vehicle access would return to normal until mid-May.

"To minimise the disruption caused by this stage of the work, we are closing one traffic lane at a time while we work our way across the street.

The second stage would then begin which would require the "complete closure" of lower Stuart St, between the Octagon and Bath St, to traffic until October.

Three temporary car parks would be created in lower Moray Pl in an area unaffected by the work until this ended, he said.