A DECISION to make York’s streets free of cars for longer will come into effect next month, a letter to city centre properties has announced.

The hours when the city’s footstreet rules apply and vehicles are restricted will be extended for ten and a half hours a week as part of an 18-month experiment to keep shoppers and pedestrians safe, City of York Council has said.

Under the plans, cars will not be allowed access to Davygate for most of the day and footstreet hours will be standardised to apply between 10.30am and 5pm every day from March 18.

The plans were given the go-ahead by cabinet late last year despite criticism from disability groups, as green-badge holders will not be allowed access to Davygate during these times.

In a letter to city-centre properties, Alistair Briggs, traffic network manager for City of York Council, said: “While I appreciate these changes may initially create some disruption and inconvenience to your current routine, I hope that in a short while the improvements aimed for will also benefit you.

“In order to try to minimise disruption during the first few days of the change-over, I should be grateful if you could ensure these changes are made known to regular visitors, staff, etc and your suppliers so they can consider changes to their delivery schedules if necessary.”

Access into St Sampson’s Square for green-badge holders (drivers considered to have the highest level of disability), will only be from the Goodramgate direction during footstreet hours.

The one-way traffic flow around St Sampson’s Square will also be reversed.

Mr Briggs said those who would like to make any representations about the proposal for the first six months of the trial, from March 18, should email him at highway.regulation@york.gov.uk or write to Network Management, Directorate of City and Environmental Services West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA.

Frank Wood, chairman of the York Retail Forum, said: “When it gets to 4pm, it tends to mean it’s the end of the trading day, because trade just falls away.

“Any expansion to the trading day is certainly welcome. We are in favour of it.

“We have problems with deliveries in York anyway, with narrow streets and large trucks, but the priority is trade.

“There are bound to be teething problems, people coming in not realising the hours have changed, so presumably there will be a little leeway where that’s concerned, but hopefully it will encourage trade and make shopping experience in York a lot better than it is now.”