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KENSINGTON businesses are either closing their doors, planning relocations or crossing their fingers they don’t go broke as light rail construction hits the shopping strip this weekend.
From Saturday all parking, and a traffic lane in each direction, will be permanently removed from Anzac Pde between Todman Ave and High St.
Construction work will last in this zone until November as part of the $2.1 billion CBD and South East Light Rail project.
The permanent loss of dozens of parking spaces and loading zones along Anzac Pde has forced businesses to move fearing a loss of customers, with Angelo’s Portugalia restaurant closing and BD’s Fine Foods moving to Maroubra.
Bike shop Happy Wheels is fitting out its new store in Green Square ahead of a move in the next two months. Max and Barbara Kaler of Baby Things are desperately searching for a new home and hope to be gone within six months after being in Kensington for 22 years.
“We are absolutely iconic. It’s really going to be horrible to leave, we will lose a lot, fortunately we have got very loyal customers,” Mrs Kaler said.
Max Kaler from Baby Things said mothers would struggle to visit their Kensington store once construction starts on Saturday.“We can’t have mothers with children and pregnant mothers trying to get car seats fitted and running around this area looking for parking. We will definitely be moving on.”
Mrs Kaler said he was disappointed Transport for NSW hadn’t offered any compensation or solutions for loss of parking.
“We haven’t been given a thing. Our landlord has offered to drop the rent a bit, because it’s going to be an inconvenience,” she said.
Randwick Council is consulting on parking changes along the light rail route, to claw back some of the 750 onstreet parking spaces lost under the project. And plans to introduce extra spaces on Roma Ave, Addison St and Villiers St in Kensington within weeks.
A Transport for NSW spokeswoman said the team was making every effort to minimise disruptions, maintain customer flow and reduce construction impacts.
“We will soon be launching an extensive activation program specifically designed for the south east that aims to encourage locals to continue supporting local businesses during construction,” the spokeswoman said.
The centre lane in each direction on Anzac Pde, between Todman and High St will be removed permanently on Saturday.Frank Mattei of Top Gun Appliances hopes new parking is introduced sooner rather than later.
“We have a loading zone at the front but from Saturday that will be gone. They haven’t done any new signs. Customers buy online and want to pick up fridges and washing machines. I don’t know where they will do that from next week,” he said.
“I’ve been here for 18 years and I know the traffic, and this is going to be really hard. A few shops have already gone. I may need to move out.”
This article first appeared on www.dailytelegraph.com.au
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