A303 Sparkford to Ilchester: Businesses brand roadworks 'a nightmare' as trade hit

  • Businesses say they have seen fewer customers because of the ongoing roadworks.

Businesses along the A303 in Somerset say roadworks have been a "nightmare" and have badly affected their trade.

The £155m project is turning a busy stretch of the road between Sparkford and Ilchester into a dual carriageway, but has suffered delays. It was originally due to be finished this Spring, but it may now be 2025 before the works are finished.  

Those behind the scheme say work is predicted to be completed by Winter 2024-2025.

But business owners operating along the busy route have told ITV News West Country that they have been badly impacted by the works.

Joy Whittington has owned The Bakery by the A303 since 1989 and is having to adapt the business.

She said: "It's had a financial impact. The last three years, it's been gradually going down and down and down. A lot of people, they they look on the internet they see roadblocks on the A303 in this area. So they travel on the A30."

The roadworks were originally due to be finished in March 2024 Credit: ITV News

The new A303 has now moved meaning the traffic no longer passes right outside the bakery's shop.

Joy added: "It's terrible. I tried to put it out of my mind and think positive all the time. But it never goes away."

Since posting about the issues they have been experiencing on social media, Joy says she has had an amazing response from the local community, which have been supporting the business.

Further along the A303, the owner of Mattia Diner - a 1950s-style American diner - says the roadworks have also affected footfall.

Andrea Mattia said: "Mainly because people are getting the wrong information, saying the A303 is closed. I mean, I had regular customers come in the other day and they went the other way to go down to Cornwall and they thought we were closed. It was open."

The Bakery has been going since 1912 and Joy has owned the business since 1989. Credit: ITV News

Andrea says the electricity supply has had to be cut twice - and signs she put up, taken down. But she says it's the unpredictability that has been the biggest issue. 

"It's a nightmare because you don't know what's going to happen from this day, from one week to another, because there's no warning what we're doing."

A spokesperson for National Highways said: “We appreciate that any works, particularly on such a major project as the A303 dualling scheme, can impact local communities but we’re committed to minimising any disruption and being good neighbours to local residents and businesses during lifespan of the scheme.

“Throughout the construction phase, we have engaged extensively with Mattia Diner and the Bakery, and any other businesses, landowner or communities to address any concerns and will continue to try our very best to minimise any impacts. We always aim to maintain access to businesses, allowing them to keep open and continue trading.

“The A303 Sparkford to Ilchester scheme will deliver desperately needed improvements to tackle the long-standing congestion and safety issues, while also helping to unlock the regional economy.

"We are grateful for people’s patience while we carry out this work and aim to complete the scheme as quickly as possible.”