Retailers on Europe’s ‘oldest shopping street’ are concerned about the impact of works on trading and may take legal action against the local authority.

Retailers on York’s Shambles – believed to be the oldest shopping destination in Europe – have been hit by ongoing work to install anti-terrorism bollards, which have restricted entry to the preserved street where some of the buildings date back to the 13th century.

Originally home to the city’s butchers, it is now mainly occupied by independent retailers catering to York’s 8 million annual visitors.

Wizardry inspired retailer Potions Cauldron owner Phil Pinder told Retail Week the work is likely to continue for some weeks. One end of the Shambles is completely closed, including at weekends when work stops.

He said: “We’re down 20% year on year, but we’re a growing business so it’s really down more like 40%.”

He said the council had listened to and acted on some of traders’ concerns, but the disruption is such that he has threatened legal action against the council on the basis of failure to fulfil lease obligations.

City of York Council director of environment, transport and planning James Gilchrist said: “We understand and apologise for this disruption to businesses in the affected streets.

“To support them, the council has worked with York BID and the FSB. Additional banners and signs have been installed that explain the alternative access for pedestrians and encourage support for affected businesses.

“We’re also sharing ‘businesses open as usual’ messages and holding a York Gift Card promotion to encourage shoppers to support these largely independent businesses.

“While one of two main access points into the Shambles from Pavement has temporarily closed, there are six other access points that are open as usual and with extra signage in place. Pedestrian access to Pavement will open during the week commencing October 2.

“We understand a claim regarding the works has been submitted, which will be reviewed.”

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