A HISTORIC business is facing a crippling cut in passing trade - after a housing estate was built right in front of it.

Cants of Colchester, which specialises in roses, is based on the old A134 between Colchester and Great Horkesley.

But as a result of part of Mersea Homes’ 1,600-home Chesterwell development - through which potential customers must now drive - company bosses say they have lost 70 per cent of their usual passing trade.

David Feaviour, head grower at the Nayland Road company, said he believes the public think the company has gone out of business and is urging customers to return.

Mr Feaviour said: “I genuinely think because the fields are gone, people think we have gone.

“I just want people to know we haven’t disappeared. We’re stuck in a housing estate but we’re still here.”

The land on which the homes are now built was previously owned by Cants and was sold in the early 2000s when company directors decided to scale back their farming operation.

Before the new A134 was opened, in April last year, the firm garnered a lot of passing trade from motorists going to and from north of Colchester.

But since the road was moved - as part of widely agreed plans - Mr Feaviour said the area has become “eerie”.

The 34-year-old, who has worked at the 250-year-old company for 14 years, added: “We knew the houses were coming, that wasn’t a surprise at all, but I remember the day the new A134 was opened.

“Suddenly, it was so, so quiet. It was eerie. We now know if you put our postcode into the sat nav, you will end up in Boxted and totally miss us.

“Thankfully one of our staff here have been able to drop a pin on us in Google Map, so people can at least find us on that.”

The company, which employs six staff, relies heavily on appearances at the Hadleigh Show, the Suffolk Show and the Tendring Show and Mr Feaviour says performance is still strong at them.

He added: “But we only do three shows a year so customers coming in is so important for us.

“In the past, I would usually be refilling the yard three times-a-week because people are coming in and buying. Now, I’m doing it once if I’m lucky.”

He added: “I’m not exaggerating, if we didn’t do the shows, I would probably be out of a job.”

“We’re not like Tesco, which obviously sells so much other stuff. We’re a corner shop compared to Tesco.”

Any stock which is not sold by September must be destroyed.

Mr Feaviour added: “The most frustrating part for me is all the work we put into the roses going to waste. Everything people see here is by our own hands. We sow them, we pot them - it’s all done by us.”

The company is well-known across the world and regularly send roses to the West Indies, Bermuda as well as all over Europe.

Their roses are also on show in Colchester Castle Park and Colchester Zoo.