ONE of Colchester town centre's most historic town centre shops is closing its doors permanently after 37 years.

Music Warehouse in St John's Street, will be shutting for the final time over the coming weeks after owners Lou and Sue Moodie made the decision to sell the premises.

Despite having a record year for sales during lockdown, Mr Moodie said the time had come for the couple to retire.

The 65-year-old also said the new cycle lane in St John's Street, installed as part of Essex County Council's Safer, Greener, Healthier project, had been a contributing factor in the couple's decision.

He said: "We had a better year last year than we have had for five years or so selling online. But we have been thinking of retiring for a while.

"Part of the decision to be honest was what Essex Highways have done outside the shop.

"The cycle lane down here has made it impossible for me to unload as there's nowhere to park.

"My delivery drivers keep complaining.

"On top of that I have offices elsewhere in the town centre and I transport things to and from the shop twice a day.

"Because of the High Street closure to cars I am having to go right round the town every single time.

"I spoke to highways to see if I could get an exemption and told them we wouldn't be able to survive without a loading bay outside my premises, but both requests were denied."

Music Warehouse, which specialises in selling guitars but also sells a range of musical instruments and equipment, will remain open whilst remaining stock is sold.

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Mr Moodie said a buyer had been found for the premises, but he did not yet have an exact date for the shop's closure.

He said: "We are selling off our stock but we will move anything remaining into a unit to sell through the website if we need to.

"Once we run out, I cannot wait to get away from Colchester.

"It is sad to say it as I have lived here my whole life.

"It will a said day when we empty the shop and close the doors for the final time.

"We have had some amazing memories over the years and had thousands of customers - not just from across Colchester.

"A lot of customers have contacted us to say how sad they are to see us go."

He added: "Sadly, I think the town centre has changed for the worse since we have been here."

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A spokesman for Essex Highways said it was sorry to hear the business was closing.

He added: “The measures on St John’s Street were introduced in response to the Government’s directives on the pandemic to create space for social distancing.

“St John’s Street has remained open to all traffic and following feedback from businesses, additional loading bay provisions were created along St John’s street to supplement the existing formal layby provision.

“This cycle lane will encourage more people to move out of cars and use active travel, which is better for our towns and cities as it leads to less congestion, better for the NHS as people get fitter through active travel and better for the environment as less pollution is released on their daily journey.

“More and safer, segregated cycle lanes are there to encourage, over time, more people to try cycling for shorter journeys.”