Trade in Lyndhurst hit by closure of A35 as coach trippers divert elsewhere
THE closure of a section of the A35 has had a "huge impact" on business in Lyndhurst, traders have warned, as day-trippers go elsewhere.
There was also an accident on a diversion route last week, between New Milton and Brockenhurst, weeks after a senior councillor warned about the state of the road.
Maria Harris, landlady of the Stag Hotel in the village High Street, told the A&T that coach trips usually arrive twice a week for lunch on the way to and from Bournemouth.
However, she said that due to the three-month closure of the A35 for the £5.5m Holmsley bridge replacement works, coaches are instead using the M27 and bypassing the village.
She said: "It's had a huge impact on trade. We've still got our locals coming in, but since the road closure we're minus our coach parties. They usually came in on a Tuesday and Thursday.
"We also lost out massively in December because of the Covid carnage of people being told not to go out if you want to see your family at Christmas."
A spokesperson for the New Forest Heritage Centre, based in the main village car park, said it too had been affected.
She said: "We used to get coach trips coming regularly from Bournemouth. We're definitely noticing the difference, not just with coach trips but general trade too – it is a lot slower.
"The closure has had a marked impact. I sincerely hope it gets completed soon as we don't want to miss out on the Easter trade."
A member of staff at the Swan Inn, on Bournemouth Road, also said business had been "massively affected".
She said: "We have got a massive drop in sales across the week. The trade we're missing is the people who come across us on the way home from a day out.
"Traffic is worse elsewhere as a result of people using the back roads, so they are even busier."
As reported in the A&T, a problem installing foundations of the replacement Holmsley bridge has been officially blamed for the A35 having to shut temporarily, when it had been hoped for shorter periods of closure.
The issue was discovered following checks by the contractor, Ringwood-based Knights Brown, appointed by Hampshire County Council.
To ensure the project is finished by the busy summer period it was decided to implement the closure from 4th January until 8th April.
That sparked a complaint earlier this month from senior councillor Steve Clarke, who criticised HCC for not repairing potholes on the narrow B3055, between New Milton and Sway, saying he feared a "serious accident".
Last week two people escaped serious injury on the B3055 Arnewood Bridge Road in Sway, after their car rolled at around 8.15pm last Friday.
Firefighters from New Milton stabilised the vehicle before releasing the casualties. Both were assessed by paramedics, but neither needed hospital treatment.
Some of the bigger holes have been repaired in recent weeks, and an HCC spokesperson previously responded to Cllr Clarke: “The condition of all the diversion routes will be regularly and routinely monitored and any necessary works will be undertaken to ensure they remain in a safe and serviceable condition.”
Problems with the foundations for the new bridge have forced a longer closure than expected. Despite large sections of new concrete being drilled out recently, HCC said the project remained on track.