Issued by City of York Council
A series of proposals going before City of York Council’s Cabinet next month (Tuesday 7 May) seek to boost York’s world-class status by creating a more attractive, public transport and pedestrian-friendly city centre.
Aligning with the ambitious plans outlined in the Draft Local Plan report (announced on 12 April), the proposals see further investment into York’s economic, cultural and recreation offer which will support wider economic growth and create an environment which enables city centre retailers and businesses to thrive.
As part of the next phase of extending York’s city centre’s pedestrian access to reduce traffic and in achieving important steps towards improving public transport reliability, proposals will now look to limit car and motorbike access on Lendal Bridge – for an initial six-month trial period. If approved, the trial will be inline with the existing footstreet hours of between 10.30am to 5pm, seven days a week.
Footstreet hours were recently extended throughout the city centre as part of an experiment to improve access within the city’s walls, whilst at the same time improving the visitor experience and supporting retail trade in the city centre.
Should Members approve the plans, an extensive period of consultation with residents and businesses across the city, throughout the trial, will take place. Feedback gained during the consultation would be used to inform any decision to make restrictions to 10.30am to 5pm permanently and/ or aspire to further restrict hours from 7am to 7pm, seven days a week in the future.
Buses, cyclists, pedestrians, taxis, service and emergency vehicles will continue to have full access over Lendal Bridge at all times.
Cllr Dave Merrett, Cabinet Member for Transport, Planning and Sustainability, said: “In the 1980s the city took bold decisions to implement the foot-streets area and close Deangate, removing 10,000 vehicle movements a day from in front of the Minster. It proved to be very successful, and was rapidly supported by retailers, residents and visitors alike, it now defines the way in which everyone accesses and uses the city centre and the Minster.
“These new public realm improvements and the removal of the bulk of traffic from the Minster corridor/Lendal Bridge is the next phase of improving the pedestrian environment and boost York’s world-class status, It will also help to reduce congestion in the area and will be an important first step towards improving public transport reliability, through the city centre..”
The trial will build on planned improvements to pedestrian access through the heart of York’s city centre and reduce traffic congestion from York’s railway station, through to Exhibition Square and Duncombe Place.
Cllr James Alexander, Labour Leader of City of York Council, said: “City centre congestion results in public transport which is less reliable and less efficient. These plans will begin to tackle this issue; helping people move around the city more easily and ultimately allowing for a quicker flow of goods and services through York.
“People prefer to shop and do business in a more attractive environment. By reducing traffic through the heart of York’s city centre we aim to make pedestrians feel safer, make our city look more attractive and entice even more residents and visitors to shop.”
Approximately £170k will be invested into the trial using Government funding awarded to the council through the Better Bus Area Fund (BBAF), in addition to contributions from the council’s capital programme.
The scheme will work side-by-side with Reinvigorate York and the BBAF programme supported by £3.5 million funding awarded to the council in 2012, aimed at generating an 18 per cent increase in bus passengers in York over the next two-years.
If approved by Cabinet, the trial period is set to commence during August when traffic volumes are relatively low and pedestrian movements are high. York’s highest prolonged footfall period is throughout the summer months of August and September, with on average 3.5 million visitors.
The traffic network will be closely monitored throughout the trial to understand and monitor the redistribution of traffic on the network. This will enable the council to ensure signal timings can be manually changed and help manage traffic flow throughout the city centre. The council will install automatic number plate recognition cameras (ANPR) to enforce the trial.
For more information, FAQs and plans of the proposals please visit www.york.gov.uk/citycentreimprovements.
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