Kingsmead Square and Avon Street in Bath are to temporarily close from 3rd July to enable pedestrians and cyclists to social distance and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Residents and businesses have received letters from Bath & North East Somerset Council updating them on new temporary measures which will give people the maximum amount of space to safely keep their distance.
Kingsmead Square and part of Avon Street will be closed to vehicles between 10am and 6pm from 3rd July until further notice.
As people often travel across Kingsmead Square by foot or by bike rather than use the footways, a road closure at the busiest times is the most effective way to protect public health rather than the pavement widening measures seen in other parts of the city.
Cyclists will still be able to use the roads and essential operations including emergency services and emergency utility works will be granted access when needed.
All restrictions will be lifted between the hours of 6pm and 10am.
The one-way traffic flow will be reversed to enable access to the private car park, which remains open, and this restriction will operate at all times.
The road closure will be made through a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) which enables it to be introduced quickly.
Councillor Dine Romero, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “As I said with the introduction of the social distancing measures in other parts of Bath, we know that some of these changes will pose an inconvenience and we will do all we can to help mitigate this.
“However, we must all do our utmost to act quickly to protect public health so we have no choice but to introduce the changes without the consultation we would hold under normal circumstances.
“We will be reviewing the temporary measures after the first few weeks, taking into account local views and you can send your comments to [email protected]”
Extensive business and public consultation was carried out from 2018-2019 around the previously proposed access restriction of 11am-midnight to support café culture and active travel, however the current proposal has been brought forward in response to the need for social distancing during the pandemic.
Councillor Andy Furse (Lib Dem, Kingsmead ward) said: “Giving people priority over motor vehicles in Kingsmead Square has been under consideration for years and I am pleased that the scheme is now going ahead on an temporary basis.
“There have been many years of consultation, research and planning, and the majority of local businesses support the idea as well as cross-party support on B&NES Council.
“The square was saved from demolition in the 1970’s, and I am sure those same campaigners would be proud that we are now moving to significant pedestrianisation while maintaining timed access for businesses – bringing the square up to a prominence it deserves, in line with similar public spaces across Europe.”
Councillor Sue Craig (Lib Dem, Kingsmead ward) added: “Most of the businesses on Kingsmead Square are in hospitality – cafes, restaurants and coffee bars.
“Many of them had previously applied to put out more tables and chairs, in anticipation of the planned daytime pedestrianisation of the square.
“Covid-19 was unexpected and damaging for the hospitality sector. Many local businesses have lost months of trade during lockdown at a critical time of year.
“On top of this, many of the premises in Kingsmead Square would be too small to achieve social distancing inside.
“Hopefully this scheme to allow them more outside space will really help support our local businesses.”