DORSET businesses, motorists and residents are “dreading” the closure of a key commuter route from Monday.

A section of the A347 New Road at West Parley will be shut for three weeks and then further repair work will go on until July.

The closure will cause major disruption, with traffic from Bournemouth forced to make lengthy diversions either through Longham or the Spur Road.

Business owners in the Parley Cross area are also fearful of the effect the closure will have on their trade.

Emily Andrews, who runs Emily’s Sandwich Shop, said: “Our worry is that the congestion is going to be so bad that people will just avoid the area altogether,” she said. “It will have a devastating effect on us, particularly as we rely heavily on passing trade.”

And Karen Belbin, of Tiegla Tiles, said: “We are all going to be affected in one way or another, but, on the other hand, this work has got to be done.

“The service road should remain open so people can still access us from the Ferndown direction. We would just stress that we will be open as normal.”

Cllr Ron Whittaker, who represents Throop and Muscliff, said he had been assured there would be free-flowing two-way traffic on Castle Lane West by the time the closure takes effect.

He said: “Many are already dreading Monday and the following three weeks when New Road is closed.

“To have the only main artery from Bournemouth closed for three weeks is going to cause enormous traffic problems in Northbourne, Kinson and that side of Bournemouth.”

The closure will be from below Parley Cross to Ensbury Bridge. Pedestrian access will be maintained and Parley Cross businesses will be accessible from the crossroads.

Andrew Martin, Dorset County Council’s head of highways, said: “Although this work is weather dependant, we are confident that we will be able to complete the work in three weeks. “By recycling the material we have cut the time the road has to be closed and it is also a cheaper, more efficient way to reconstruct the damaged structure.

“We will work with residents affected by this closure, checking that access is available when it’s needed.”