BAKERY Hill traders may consider class action over beautification works they say are costing them thousands of dollars.
The traders are angry their rates have gone up but their Bridge Mall car parks have often been closed off since mid-July.
Tatts for the Memory owner Kay Stevenson said the works — part of the Ballarat City Council’s Bakery Hill redevelopment project — had cost her between $3000 and $4000 in lost trade each month.
“None of us wanted this,” Ms Stevenson said.
“They’ve (the council) have put my rates up $2000 this year, but they’ve taken all my business away for months and months. This will be the death knell for all of us.”
Bakery Hill is being redeveloped into an open square concept, with grassed areas, trees, street furniture and ornamental lighting. The existing car parking is being reallocated and the rotunda moved to Kirks Reservoir.
The works were due to be finished in August, but would now not be completed until nearly the end of this month.
Ms Stevenson said car parking around the area had become a nightmare, with four of her clients in one week missing appointments due to being unable to find a park.
She also said the works didn’t resemble the original proposal, with benches and steel railings installed where the plans showed a large grassed area with trees and Victorian-style lamps.
The 180 Shop owner Rob Hand said he was down “a lot” each month.
“Everybody’s in the same boat,” Mr Hand said.
“Why couldn’t they do this in the winter time? Half the car parks are blocked off in our busy times. My rates went up $2000 this year and what am I getting for it?”
Boah Organic owner Rob McNamara also said it had been a “hard slog”.
“They’ve shown no consideration.
“They lock away five spots a day and they stay out all day even if they’re not being used,” Mr McNamara said.
However, a Ballarat City Council spokesperson said the works would provide a significant economic stimulus for the Bakery Hill traders.
“That is why council has invested almost $1 million into these works, which will provide a greatly improved amenity for the area, as well as a more enjoyable shopping experience,” the spokesperson said.
“Council understands that civil works can be disruptive, but has worked with contractors to minimise impact on traders during the project.”
They also said there would be an overall loss of three car parks in the precinct, though there had been a temporary loss of some parks to allow for safe machinery and equipment moving.
“In addition to the beautification works, two extra CCTV cameras have been installed in the Bakery Hill precinct and a further three cameras have been erected at the Little Bridge Street bus interchange.”