YORK’S historic city-centre streets are set to become pedestrianised zones for ten-and-a-half more hours a week in a council trial.
A review of the city’s footstreets could also see vehicles blocked from using the entrance to Spurriergate at Nessgate junction overnight, while banning vehicles from Davygate for most of the day is also likely to be tested.
The proposals will go before transport boss Coun Dave Merrett next week.
Transport officials have recommended an “experimental traffic regulation order” of up to 18 months, standardising footstreet hours and extending the times when pedestrians have priority and vehicles are restricted to previously untried levels.
Current footstreet hours are 11am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, 10.30am to 4.30pm on Saturdays and midday to 4pm on Sundays. The new order, if approved, would mean a blanket time of 10.30am to 5pm every day, apart from in Stonegate which already has longer operating hours.
Davygate would be completely shut to vehicles during the new times, also for a trial period, and the one-way system around St Sampson’s Square being altered. Officers said consultation should would be on closing Spurriergate’s entrance from Nessgate to vehicles, except between 7am and 10.30am.
In a written report, traffic network manager Alistair Briggs said extending the hours would make life better for pedestrians in the area.
He said it would encourage residents and visitors to stay in the city centre longer and help its night-time economy.
He said the council could use one of the existing footstreet times every day, rather than having three different periods, but extending the hours would be a “bolder move” which was backed by some businesses.
However, he said a questionnaire sent to all homes and businesses in the footstreets area had indicated some “reticence to change”, meaning extended hours should be an experiment rather than permanent.
If the change is introduced, opening times for pavement cafés and other street activities could also be extended.
Mr Briggs’ report said the Spurriergate/Nessgate junction could be closed to vehicles without preventing access to city-centre properties, as they could use the Parliament Street/High Ousegate junction.