Published: 00:00, 19 June 2014
| Updated: 12:40, 19 June 2014
Repairs are finally underway at the Gorrell Tank car park in Whitstable.
The car park's closure has caused a storm of controversy since it was closed at the end of April.
Businesses say that they have lost thousands of pounds from their tills as the lack of spaces is putting off visitors while residents are fighting Canterbury City Council plans to open a temporary car park on Westmeads Rec.
The chamber of commerce this week called on two councillors and the council officer in charge to resign.
Engineers from Southern Water say, weather and tides-permitting, half of the car park will reopen by the end of July.
The tank protects homes in the area from flooding during storms.
The car park was shut at the end of April after some of the tank’s supporting columns were found to have corroded but the tank remains in service.
The cracks which can be seen in some of the concrete columns have been caused by the corrosive atmosphere inside the tank and the impact of vehicles parking above.
Elsewhere in the tank, the columns are more seriously damaged with some of the concrete having fallen off, exposing the steel reinforcement underneath.
Southern Water, which owns the land, say they are working closely with the city council.
The water company’s contractor Morrison Utility Services will add supports to the corroded columns and clear a build-up of silt from the eastern side of the tank.
Further investigations will be required before repairs to the other half of the tank are considered.
Jon Yates, Southern Water project manager, said: “Since we closed the car park in April, we have carefully planned our repairs to coincide with the tides.
"However, the weather will also determine if we can complete the work without further delay.
“Health and safety is our priority and, with the stormwater tank remaining live throughout the repairs to protect the town from flooding, wet weather will prevent our contractors from working inside the structure.
"However, the forecast looks good and, if we are able to work around the tides as planned, we should have half of the car park reopened by the end of July."
“I would like to thank the people of Whitstable for their continued patience - we know losing the car park has been disruptive but I can assure everyone that we are doing everything we can to get this sorted as quickly as we can."
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