Published: 00:01, 30 January 2018
by Amy Nickalls and Lynn Cox
Ambitious £9 million plans to make the centre of Strood more accessible are set to begin.
Money secured from the South East Local Enterprise Partnership is being used to improve pedestrian routes, cycling facilities and road layouts.
Strood market will be closed from the middle of February to allow work on the Corporation Street car park to begin.
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This is planned to last until the end of March.
Roadworks on Commercial Road, Knight Road and the High Street could last until May next year.
Traders have been offered the opportunity to move to Gillingham on Mondays and Saturdays until the new site is completed.
Matt Hume, who owns Jane’s Stall, Tolgate Lane, said he is pleased to see Strood on the up.
But the former market trader added it needs to be done quickly.
He told KentOnline's sister paper, the Medway Messenger: “I’m really happy they are improving the area.
“There’s a lot going on in Strood and it’s good to see the effort being made to bring the place up.
“But the council have got to understand how important it is to cause as little impact as they can.
“It’s really important for them to get back there because they pull people to the local businesses as well.
“I hope there will be access to the high street from the retail park while the work is going on.
"There's a lot going on in Strood and it's good to see the effort being made to bring the place up" - Matt Hume
“It feeds the businesses and it’s important the council works closely with traders.”
Medway Council’s portfolio holder for regeneration, Cllr Rodney Chambers, said: “Strood is one of Medway’s key regeneration sites and I am pleased the improvement works will soon be underway.
“The opening of the new railway station last month will help to further boost economic growth.
“Strood is becoming an increasingly popular area and the works, which will help to revitalise the town centre, aim to make Strood a place residents are proud to live and work.”
Last Saturday, there were only five stalls at the market.
Michael Parsloe runs Mike’s watch repair stall and has traded in Strood for about 20 years.
He said: "I have built up a trade doing alterations and repairs over 20 years, and I have a lot of good customers at the market on Saturday and Tuesday.
"To be only given two and a half weeks notice that the market will close for three or four months? .
"I feel we all have been let down - I don’t know how I’m going to pay bills.
"I’ve had sleepless nights and high blood pressure due to worry.
"I was told I could go to Gillingham market, but my customers live in Strood and nearby.
"Other traders and myself thought the market would stay open and we would have to move from one side to the other of the car park while work was being done, or the very least stay in Strood Town Area."
Alan Tridgell has a bakery and confectionery stall and has traded at Strood since 2009.
He said: “If it generates more people coming into Strood it will be good because at the moment it is not very good and parking is atrocious. We were left in the dark a little bit and were only told last Tuesday what was going to happen. I already do another market on a Tuesday somewhere else.”
Alan Tomkins corr has been a stallholder at Strood since 2006: “I will probably go to Gillingham on a Monday and will have to find somewhere else for the Saturday.”
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