Businesses blame parking woes for loss of trade

Mike Whitehouse from Printer Food, Laura Street, says his business has been badly affected by the construction of the new Software City building.

Mike Whitehouse from Printer Food, Laura Street, says his business has been badly affected by the construction of the new Software City building.

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BUSINESSMEN have hit out at a new development which swallowed up a once-busy city centre car park.

Work is under way at Sunderland’s £10million flagship Software City.

But nearby businesses say taking away the old Tavistock Place multi-storey car park and work to widen pavements has sent sales crashing.

Mike Whitehouse says passing trade at his firm Printer Food has dropped by 80 per cent, while business rates have soared.

“My rates have doubled to £400 a month.

“If you are building an office block, you have to put parking in and they have not.

“There are 60 offices and when I looked at the plans there were 20 parking spaces.

“There are double yellow lines round here, so there is absolutely nowhere to go.

“I would say we have lost 80 per cent of our passing traffic.”

Mr Whitehouse, who has been based in Laura Street since September 2005, feels the future is bleak as more work is planned at the Toward Road and Borough Road junction.

“We did ask for some 20-minute parking spaces outside so customers could still come and go, but they said it was impossible.

“Customers are getting £30 parking tickets. Would you come back here if you got a parking ticket?”

Franchisee Peter Phillips has been running Prontaprint next door for three years.

“There has never been any parking consideration for the traders on this corner,” he said.

“Basically, we have to go out and move our van every hour so we don’t get a parking ticket.”

He added: “They could provide us with short-term parking along the shop front so customers can pop in and we can pull in and unload.”

Jimmy Shadforth, who owns D’Acqua restaurant, in John Street, said: “The city centre is dying with all the shops, offices and units all closed up and with ‘to let’ on nearly every other building.

“The council should be helping local businesses and encouraging the public to use the businesses in the city. Instead they are pushing people away from the centre.

“It’s about time Sunderland Council woke up and looked around our city.

“A multi-storey was flattened at Tavistock for a flat car park, which was almost full every day, then an office block was built, now the lunch-time trade has died a death due to this.

“People will not park in the next nearest car park in Hendon and walk into the city.

“Wake up Sunderland Council and help the local businesses.”

The city council is encouraging people to use the 90-plus parking places at the neighbouring Tatham Street car park, and assured businesses that parking bays around the development will be re-instated once building work is finished.

This would be made up of two one-hour bays and one loading bay at Tavistock Place, nine meter-controlled bays in Laura Street and four in Murton Street.

Sunderland City Council deputy leader Harry Trueman said: “Sunderland Software Centre is due to open later this year.

“It will house several hundred people and will help boost the city’s growing hi-tech reputation.

“With dozens of businesses located at the £10million centre, it can undoubtedly help and support economic prosperity across the city centre as a whole.”

Works at the Tavistock junction with Toward Road are due to be completed next month.

Twitter: @janethejourno