A section of Deansgate is set to be temporarily closed to traffic, as part of a bid to make more space for people to walk in the city and help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Manchester City Council is preparing to create an enhanced shared space for pedestrians and people on bikes on Deansgate, enabling visitors and workers to socially distance more easily as they return to shops and offices in this thriving part of the city centre.
The part-pedestrianisation will create new space for events and markets to be installed, stimulating activity and increasing footfall as restrictions on movement to limit the spread of COVID-19 are lifted.
By encouraging the use of sustainable modes of transport, it is also intended that the recent drop in air pollution and congestion will be maintained, supporting the city’s target of becoming zero-carbon by 2038 at the latest.
The council is finalising arrangements for a closure of Deansgate between King Street West and Blackfriars Street. This will initially take place under a temporary “experimental” traffic order, allowing officers to assess the impacts of the measure and make any necessary changes, with a view to potentially bringing forward a permanent closure of part of Deansgate.
The temporary closure will be carried out using removable barriers, which can be taken down over a short prescribed period once per weekday, allowing windows for local businesses to accept deliveries.
Manchester City Council has been working with partners to draft a new City Centre Transport Strategy for public consultation, with a focus on reducing reliance on car journeys and promoting cycling, walking and public transport as preferred transport modes.
In other busy areas of Manchester, available space for pedestrians is set to be increased by using heavy-duty ‘Rhino’ barriers to create extended footways. The planned intervention will allow people to walk from public transport hubs to nearby shops or their place of work, while observing social distancing guidance.
The first footways to be widened are set to be on Princess Street and London Road in the city centre. Feasibility studies are currently being carried out by council officers to inform the exact stretches of roads where footways will be widened, with a further series of city centre locations and district centres being assessed for similar interventions.
Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, said: “When the essential lockdown measures start to be lifted, we need to make sure that there is more space for people to walk in the city centre and busy district centres. That’s why we're planning these changes, which will aid the economy in its recovery, boost air quality and contribute to the city’s ambitious target of becoming zero-carbon by 2038 at the latest.
“Temporarily closing part of Deansgate to traffic will help us to understand the benefits of such a measure. Our aspiration is that it could become a permanent change, but it’s important to stress that this would only happen after an open conversation to give all residents, businesses and other affected parties the chance to have their say.
“As and when lockdown starts to ease, rather than going back to business as usual, we want to work with people who live and work in the city to give them the opportunity to travel more sustainably, enjoying cleaner air and a less congested city.
"Putting these measures in place will help our city's economy not simply to recover, but to prosper."