A Rotorua cafe owner says she has lost about $60,000 of business after 13 weeks of roadworks outside the cafe - and is now looking at approaching the council for a rates rebate.

Third Place Cafe owner Fiona Withers said the roadworks had been a major disruption for the Lake Rd business, with staff being sent home early some days and a significant loss in turnover.

Because the works were planned and there was some limited access to the cafe, she said they weren't able to claim business interruption insurance.

Legal advice had been that while they could take a civil case against the council, more time would be spent trying to fight it than what would be achieved.


Rotorua Lakes Council said it had no legal obligation to provide compensation, but mayor Steve Chadwick told the Rotorua Daily Post yesterday that she had spoken to council chief executive Geoff Williams and he was quite prepared to enter discussions with the business.

Ms Withers said they were told the initial construction on Lake Rd would take four to six weeks, then initial surfacing would take place at the end of March. Instead, work finished this week.

She said there had been three separate days where, on short notice, the cafe had no water and could not operate for health and safety reasons.

She had spoken to the landlord about "a bit of a holiday from rent" and helping the business approach the council about a rebate on its rates to try to offset some of the costs.

"I think it was very poorly managed and the council need to take some of the responsibility for that."

Ms Withers said if the council managed roadworks in the same way again it would happen to other businesses in the future. "We are just very glad to know that we've got a lovely new road out there ... very happy that we are out the other end."

The mayor said the council did not like to see any business adversely affected but the works were essential and could become quite complicated.

Mrs Chadwick said "very unfortunately" the works took longer than planned, but that was the position and Rotorua was a geothermal area

"It's a jolly shame this has happened."

Council director of transport and waste solutions Stavros Michael said the work had taken longer than expected because of problems once the ground was opened up.

These included stormwater drainage problems associated with the hospital site above the road, the discovery of an old geothermal bore which had to be tested then sealed off, and further strengthening required to ensure the road would cope with future traffic loading.

"This work needed to be done because the foundation of the road beneath the seal was damaged.

Reinstating the foundation for the whole stretch of the road was more cost-effective than conducting ongoing repairs in sections."

Mr Michael acknowledged it had been an inconvenience for residents and businesses and apologised for that.

He said he would personally contact the cafe to address its concerns about the time taken completing the works.

The council understood there was an impact on affected properties when roadworks were undertaken but there was no legal basis for compensation from the council.

Mr Michael said council staff, contractors and a staff member of the company which managed the contract on the council's behalf had been in frequent, at times daily, contact with the cafe operators during the course of the work.

"Site contractors become responsible for keeping people informed as roadworks progress and in this case the contract manager also assigned someone to maintain regular contact with the cafe operators and keep them informed, which they have done."

Hickey Contractors managing director Andrew Shrimpton said his firm had liaised with Third Place Cafe throughout the process and tried to accommodate its needs where possible.