The centre of Shrewsbury is set to remain traffic-free during the day for the rest of the summer to help keep people safe and help businesses to maximise their potential over the summer.
High Street will be closed to traffic between 11am and 4pm – a change from the original timing of 11am to 6pm – and Wyle Cop will be open to outward bound traffic only, on a 24-hour basis.
All car parks remain open and accessible with Frankwell and Abbey Foregate remaining free of charge until further notice to support the town centre’s recovery.
Shropshire Council, as the highway authority and part of the multi-agency Shrewsbury Recovery Taskforce, says the temporary interventions are intended to be in place until the end of September.
Councillor Peter Nutting, leader of Shropshire Council, said he wanted to emphasise that the changes were temporary and not a long-term solution.
He said: “Closing High Street to traffic during the day gives us two major benefits – it creates much greater capacity for people to move around the town centre with social distancing and will enable businesses to use more outside space.
“The idea is that cafes, bars and restaurants will be able to apply to use the loading bays for outside seating areas, which will be vital to help them serve a growing number of customers and drive economic activity for the whole town.
“We will be putting further measures in place to encourage traffic to go around the edge of town rather than using the diversion route along Town Walls, and we are monitoring the traffic flow on a regular basis.
“As we said at the outset, these are not long-term solutions, they are temporary interventions to enable the town centre to welcome people in a safe way as we start our recovery.”
Seb Slater, executive director of Shrewsbury BID, which is part of the Shrewsbury Recovery Taskforce along with Shropshire Council and Shrewsbury Town Council, said hospitality businesses were looking forward to opening from next weekend.
He said: “The overall feedback from businesses has been very understanding and supportive of the measures and we do appreciate that businesses are having to adapt particularly with regards to deliveries.”
“Footfall figures measured by Springboard UK in Shrewsbury since the highway measures show Shrewsbury to be outperforming other UK towns and cities benchmarks by up to 20%.
“We also hope that by announcing the intention for the highway measures to be in place until the end of September, it gives businesses clarity for the summer which they can plan around.
“We are doing a lot of work with our council partners to help businesses make the most of this opportunity to use outside space creatively, which will help kick-start the local economy and bring a really welcoming and positive atmosphere to the town centre.”
Councillor Alan Mosley, leader of Shrewsbury Town Council, said he welcomed the traffic interventions being in place until the end of September.
He added: “Removing through-traffic from key streets in the centre of Shrewsbury during the day during the summer is already giving the town centre a much more welcoming atmosphere and seem to have found favour with visitors and most businesses.
“I know the effects of the traffic schemes are being constantly monitored, and further modifications can be made if necessary.
“This is actually a really good opportunity to test the impact of removing traffic from the town centre and creating pedestrian priority zones, over an extended period. This means that any discussions about longer-term plans will be based on this evidence and on wide consultation with the whole community.”