PLANS to close a weekday shopping street have received a mixed reception.
During the first coronavirus lockdown, cafes and restaurants on Brighton’s Gardner Street have been extended to the street like weekends.
But there have been problems with disabled access, and the latest closure plan has raised fresh concerns among activists.
Brighton and Hove City Council has published a Traffic Regulations Ordinance (TRO) banning “motor vehicles” from driving along Gardner Street from 11am to 7pm, seven days a week.
A second order would authorize the transfer of disabled bays on Gardner Street to nearby Regent Street with a limited three-hour stay and a personalized bay.
Gardner Street would remain open to emergency vehicles, special vehicles for the disabled, cyclists and funeral homes.
Paul Loman, director of the Real Junk Food Project, which runs a pay-as-you-feel cafe on the street, is excited about the proposals.
He said: “Now if you walk down the street on a weekday you will see that the public acts as if the street is already empty of traffic and cars and vans have to maneuver around pedestrians.
“During the Covid lockdown the road has been traffic free and it has worked well. Gardner Street has its fair share of food businesses and as such the TRO will benefit the local economy.
“I see that there has been some backtracking in terms of disabled access and parking, but the second part of the proposal to move disabled parking to Regent Street seems to address that issue.”
But Brighton Access for Disabled Groups Everywhere (Badge) campaigner Pippa Hodge said expanded street licensing has created “no-go” areas for people with wheelchairs, mobility aids and those with visual impairments.
Last year, Badge and Possability People met with Council Adviser Mott McDonald to raise concerns about disabled access and protecting disabled bays from the “overgrowth” of cafe furniture and clothes rails.
Ms Hodge said: “No further invitations to disability stakeholders to discuss the proposals have been issued since November 2021, so we were unaware before the TRO was published that the Council was proposing to close Gardner Street entirely.
“This proposal will have a direct and detrimental impact on disabled residents – although the report recognizes that at least one of the bays is essential for a disabled resident.
“The TRO deals ruthlessly with the identified needs of the residents.
“Imagine waking up one morning to find the council has put up a barricade on your doorstep and you are only allowed out before 11am or after 7pm.”
During the pandemic, Gardner Street was one of the areas in North Laine that was subject to an experimental traffic order, closing the street for the same hours now being proposed.
In November last year, the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee agreed to return to pre-pandemic weekend and bank holiday road closures because weekday closures were proving so difficult for blue badge holders.
The council said it will be meeting with Badge and Possability People soon and will ensure their feedback on September 20, when the decision is made, “is an integral part of the report being considered by council members”.
The original partial closure in 2020 was a temporary measure as part of initiatives to support businesses in the pandemic, ending at the end of 2021. It said: “Since then, many residents and businesses have contacted us asking what time of day closures are to be reintroduced.”
https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/20627247.plan-ban-cars-gardner-street-brighton-week/?ref=rss Plan to ban midweek cars from Gardner Street in Brighton