Old City moves closer to being car-free
Plans to pedestrianise the Old City have taken a step forward.
Removing traffic from the area is part of a plan for Bristol city centre that is set to be adopted after May’s mayoral election.
The idea is not new, having been pushed by community groups in the past and promised by former mayor George Ferguson in his unsuccessful re-election campaign of 2016.
It is also among the pledges of Bristol mayor Marvin Rees as he seeks re-election this year.
Now Bristol City Council officials have briefed councillors on progress being made towards the pedestrianisation of the small triangular area between Castle Park and the A38.
The Old City is home to St Nicholas Market, Corn Street and Bristol Crown Court, as well as homes, restaurants, cafes, shops and offices.
Members of the council’s growth and regeneration scrutiny commission heard on February 13 that council officers have been looking to international examples of pedestrian precincts to flesh out their ideas.
Shown an example from Toulouse, France, where a car could clearly be seen driving alongside people on foot, councillors expressed concern over what officers had in mind for the Old City.
Councillor Mark Weston said: “If you’re going to pedestrianise it, pedestrianise it. Don’t semi-pedestrianise it and let cars through.
“If people don’t feel safe, they won’t use it.”
But director of city growth Nuala Gallagher assured members that the council was not looking to turn the Old City into a shared space.
“We’re not saying that it’s a shared space for cars,” Ms Gallagher said. “It is pedestrianisation, just to be clear.”
The commission heard that there was no firm timescale for pedestrianisation of the Old City yet.
Living Heart for Bristol, a campaign to improve the central areas of Bristol, put forward proposals for pedestrianising the Old City which led to a council consultation in 2012.
Corn Street’s pavements were widened and St Stephen’s Street was made more pedestrian-friendly in 2015.
By Amanda Cameron, Local Democracy Reporter