25 May 2024

Work delay, new intersection layout adds to financial woes of Cambridge Rd shops 

Ongoing delays in ‘future-proofing’ of the intersection of SH1C Cobham Drive and Cambridge Road to ‘improve safety’ has ironically led to frustration, financial side-effects on businesses – and residents which perhaps was not anticipated.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is replacing the  old, ‘unfit’ roundabout at this intersection with traffic lights, including two signalised pedestrian crossings, on a raised intersection platform.

Project that started in January this year was originally scheduled to finish in six months, but ran into an unexpected delay, pushing out the time frame. Work is now anticipated to finish in August, weather-depending.

Upgradation of intersection
Disruptions caused due to delays in roundabout(left) upgrade is impacting businesses

Disruption caused by delayed construction, temporary closure of the left hand turn into local Cambridge Rd. from SH1C Cobham Dr.(from 5 April) and permanent closure of right turn access into local Cambridge Rd., has reportedly added to frustration of shop owners.

Frequent delays in completion of the upgradation project and turn closures has led to a significant fall in customer numbers impacting their income, claim the small cluster of Hillcrest shops.

Dozens of their regular daily customers have just disappeared as a result. For example, most commuters returning from South used to take the Cambridge Rd. shortcut to go to various parts of the city. On the way, they would often stop at the local Indian take away, dairy, bakery or pick up a bottle or two from the Bottle-O store on their way home. This is no longer possible with new lay-out change.

Worried business owners
Worried shop owners, Seila (left) & Sunny (Photos: NewsViews)

“This upgradation of roundabout is having a huge impact on our business. Customer count has drastically reduced as a result of this construction, road closures and removing right turn into Cambridge Road. Since start of the project in January, on an average we have lost approximately 40% of our retail turnover,” claims Sunny Parihar of Hillcrest Bottle-O store.

This loss of business was echoed by Seila Ly of Hillcrest Bakery & Cafe located across the road.

“This redevelopment has resulted in at least 30-35% fall in our cafe income as fewer customers are coming in. Our concern is we do not know for sure when this project will be finished and normal vehicle access will return.”

When asked whether the permanent closure of the right hand turn will have any further impact, Seila replied, “Possibly, yes, but will know only later after this (project) is complete.”

Both Sunny and Seila agreed that other neighbouring shops, for example, an Indian takeaway, a Superette and bakery also face a similar situation.

Friday which is usually a very busy day for shop owners, seemed unduly quiet when NewsViews visited.

Feeling helpless, Sunny says “We businesses were just about recovering from post-Covid era, bracing with ram raids/burglaries, rising inflation/living costs and now this project is reducing our sales.”

Bottle-O has been a victim of two attempted robberies in the past three months, Hillcrest Bakery & Cafe was ram-raided in October 2022, while the Hillcrest Superette was burgled as recent as 12 April, last week. Police forensic team arrived  at the Superette when NewsViews was there on Friday.

Affected Shops
Some of the businesses that are believed to be impacted (Photo: NewsViews)

“We don’t know what to do, no insurance covers a financial loss due to this road closure,” laments a frustrated Sunny. “We have mortgages, outgoings, overheads, staff wages to pay and are extremely worried at this loss of income.”

Sunny and other affected shop owners had recently met the Hamilton East Labour MP, Jamie Strange and presented him with a joint memorandum apprising him of their current plight. According to Sunny, they are yet to receive any response.

Its not only the shop owners who have been impacted. With no option to turn right from local Cambridge Rd. into Cobham Dr. people wanting to head west along SH1C from local Cambridge Rd. should instead travel north to Wairere Dr. and use the Cobham Dr. interchange. Bus route outside Hillcrest , for example, has been modified.

Several local residents have expressed their strong feelings about the closure of right turn, and have termed it as ‘not a sensible decision’. One local resident, Michelle says “It’s extremely silly for families coming out of the school to not be able to turn right to get to their homes easily as there are so many that live on the other side of Cambridge Rd.”

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency recognises the concerns of these shop owners regarding the upgrade and its impact on them and the larger community.

David Speirs, Director of Regional Relationships for Waka Kotahi told NewsViews “We appreciate how disruptive it is, and the challenges this presents for business, as well as the impact on commuters, the whānau of Hillcrest Normal Primary School, and the wider community.

In a written statement on Friday, 13 April, Speirs assured NewsViews “we are doing our utmost to complete the intersection improvements as soon as we can so the people of Hillcrest and the wider city can enjoy the benefits to this neighbourhood.”

Where are customers, asks Paramjit
Customer inflow has slowed for Paramjeet as well (Photo: NewsViews)

The $5.8 million upgrades project is expected to “significantly improve safety through the residential area and will also help future-proof this busy commuter route…(and) bring many benefits to the community, including to the local businesses along Cambridge Road.”Read More...

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  1. It’s extremely silly for families coming out of the school to not be able to turn right to get to their homes easily as there are so many that live on the other side of Cambridge Rd. Sad for the businesses also.

  2. I am very uncomfortable with the possibility I can no longer turn right into Cambridge Road after the road works are finished and know many others with stronger feelings – its not a sensible decision for the local community – and shouldn’t we be important too?

    1. Agreed. No upgradation should be at cost of community’s convenience & if a consultation was held in 2018, it had no meaning in Jan 2023 when it was started.

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