Rochford residents are facing months of upheaval during work to replace ageing gas pipes.

Cadent has announced a major renewal project starting next month and taking place on some of the district’s busiest roads.

The five-month project will be done in ten main phases in Southend Road between the junctions with Leicester Avenue and Rochford Reservoir and also in Sutton Road between the junctions with Ann Boleyn Roundabout and Warwick Drive.

Diversion will be put in place as much of the road from the Anne Bolyn pub going towards the Purdey’s Way industrial estate. will be completely closed. Traffic going to and from Warner’s Bridge and Rochford will be operated by traffic lights.

Mike Steptoe, leader of Rochford District Council, said: “The word chaos springs to mind. Since last year there have been something like 32 gas leaks so it is a safety issue. They are old cast iron gas mains and must be replaced.

“Things like emergency services and rubbish collections are my biggest concern, as are all the kids who live in places like Great Wakering who go to King Edmund School.

"It will be during exam time so I worried about delays for them but all the agencies have been involved in this to try to minimise disruption.”

Project manager, Stuart Griffiths, said: “The new pipes we’ll be installing will be in service until around the Year 2100 helping ensure local people continue to enjoy safe and reliable gas supplies for cooking and heating, while also reducing the risk of disruption caused by leaks from ageing gas mains.

“We’ve worked closely with the local authority to ensure this essential work is delivered with as little disruption to the local community as possible.”

Residents are invited to a consultation event on Friday from 12 noon to 8pm at the Anne Boleyn in Southend Road.

Drop-in sessions will be held at the Anne Boleyn every Tuesday between 12pm and 6pm from Tuesday, April 7 for five weeks, and every Thursday between 9am and 2pm from Thursday, April 9for five weeks.

Anyone with concerns can call a helpline on 01708 436772.