More than 100 traders turned out at an emergency meeting to discuss plans to close Rye Lane for over a year from January 2019.
At a meeting held on Thursday, December 6, gas company SGN heard from affected traders who are petitioning for more help and compensation for loss of business during the major works.
In September the News reported that SGN was applying to the council to start work in January, but no timeframes or the extent of the disruption was given.
The company has now confirmed it will begin upgrading the network in Rye Lane from January 7, as part of a £1 million investment to replace old mains with new plastic piping.
Each of the six phases of work will involve temporarily closing a section of Rye Lane to traffic, but pedestrians will not be affected and an exception will be made for delivery vehicles.
But with work expected to last at least thirteen months and full details only just published, many traders are worried about being left out of pocket at short notice – especially as they will currently only be able to claim compensation when the work is finished.
Eileen Conn from Peckham Vision, a Rye Lane Traders’ Association member and co-organiser of the meeting, said: “Over 100 Rye Lane traders attended the very lively Rye Lane Traders Association (RLTA) meeting.
“They voiced their shock and distress at the short notice about the gas works and no proper help organised to compensate them for the disruption to their business.”
Southwark Council has arranged an urgent meeting with SGN for early next week to raise the businesses’ concerns.
A spokesperson for SGN told the News it had spent many months planning the work to minimise disruption as much as possible. “This is a complex engineering project, which will ensure Peckham homes and businesses continue to enjoy a safe and reliable gas supply for years to come
“We appreciate that our essential work will cause disruption to local businesses and we’re committed to doing all we can to support Rye Lane traders.
“Following on from our drop-in session at the start of November, we’re continuing to engage with local businesses to explain more about our work and discuss compensation available to small businesses based on individual circumstances.
“We’ll continue to liaise with all stakeholders over the coming months to help minimise the disruption caused by our essential work in Rye Lane.”