Micklegate and Castlegate could be the next streets closed to traffic

Micklegate, Castlegate and other shopping streets across the city could be partly closed to traffic under temporary coronavirus guidelines.

Fossgate will be pedestrianised between 10.30am to 8pm – under City of York Council plans – to give visitors more room for social distancing and businesses extra space to put tables and chairs outside.

And a council meeting heard that businesses on other streets have also contacted the council about temporary traffic bans.

Andy Kerr, head of regeneration at the council, said options could also be considered for Castlegate, King’s Square and Micklegate.

Cllr Susan Hunter asked about options for the future of the Front Street shopping area, which is already partly closed for some of the day.

Mr Kerr said the areas are under constant review, adding: “What we don’t want to do but is just arbitrarily close spaces when we haven’t got an identified use for it.

“We need to work with businesses to understand what they want rather than imposing something on them.”

Exciting possibilites

Jonny Crawshaw. Photograph: York Labour Party / YouTube

But the traffic bans are temporary in response to the pandemic – and the council’s director of economy Neil Ferris said a consultation and scrutiny sessions will be needed to make them permanent.

The new traffic bans are set to be in place until December 15.

Cllr Jonny Crawshaw said: “Having spoken with traders and residents in the Micklegate area many times over the last few years it’s clear that there is a lot of support for making further improvements to the street, building on the many positive changes we’ve already seen over recent years.

“Supporting businesses through the next phase of the coronavirus crisis is vital.

“By allowing the cafes, restaurants and other businesses to trade in the open air we can help entice people out of their homes and back to the centre.

“Ensuring a safe and welcoming environment by reallocating more of the road-space on Micklegate for pedestrians and traders will help give people confidence to return. It could be fantastic for the street and the wider area. I’m really excited about the possibilities.”

The footstreets set to reach Fossgate

James Gilchrist, assistant director of transport at the council, said: “As part of this strategy, we’ve talked to businesses and trading associations and have encouraged them to work together to put forward proposals to the council for their streets, and wherever possible the council will support and facilitate these proposals.

“In the case of Fossgate the council has responded to the submission from the traders, and extended the footstreets to allow outdoor seating and greater social distancing.”

Businesses will need a licence to put tables on the pavement.