PLANS to revamp traffic flow in the city centre by creating a one-way system along George Street have been approved.
The famous shopping thoroughfare will become one-way for motorists with a lane dedicated to vehicles travelling west to east and a two-way cycle lane on the other side of the street from late July.
Work to change signs and the road layout will get under way on June 16.
Traders and cycle campaigners have largely welcomed the experiment which will run throughout the summer festival for one year.
Transport chiefs will monitor the effect of the trial on the street and surrounding areas. Under the bold vision parking will be retained up the middle of the road.
Meanwhile pavements on the northern side of the street will be widened from North Charlotte Street to Frederick Street, while south side pavements will get the same treatment from Frederick Street to St Andrew Square, meaning large venues like The Dome and the Assembly Rooms will be able to offer outdoor seating.
It is understood that last year’s festival, when whole parts of George Street were closed across August, had convinced city chiefs that greater pedestrianisation of the area could work. Traders and cycling groups have given the plan the thumbs-up.
Joshua Miller, chair of the George Street Traders Association, said: “It was a success last summer so we welcome it back and also welcome the fact that it is a trial which will be carefully monitored across the year throughout all seasons. The proof will be in the pudding.”
He added: “Now that the tram works have finished people are returning to the city centre, the out-of-town shopping centres can’t match the city centre as a destination. That is hopefully what this trial will do: make George Street and the city centre a destination and an experience people enjoy shopping and visiting.”
The council wants to lock-in the arrangements for at least five years if the trial is a success so businesses have the confidence to spend on outdoor tables, seating and other facilities.
Ian Maxwell, of city cycling charity Spokes, said they welcomed the decision to experiment with a cycleway.
He said they “will watch closely to see how it works”.
City transport convenor Councillor Lesley Hinds, said given the scheme’s “experimental nature”, it will be monitored and reviewed throughout the year “to reflect feedback and lessons learned”.
She said: “By increasing pavement space and creating a two-way cycle route we are enhancing their use for pedestrians and cyclists, improving the surrounding environment and creating a relaxed atmosphere for the public. As a major UK capital it is important we show off our city centre, and these plans will not only open up one of our key thoroughfares for visitors, shoppers and the community to enjoy, but will showcase the thriving local businesses on offer.”
The Evening News told earlier this month how trader plans will see the street kitted out with swanky decking and outdoor seating.