The scheme will help to support social distancing and boost the local economy
The closures will be put in place using a mixture of planters and concrete bollards, signalling the next key milestone in the delivery of the council’s Green Transport Recovery Plan. Launched at the end of May, the plan sets out a range of temporary transport measures to support social distancing, active travel and economic growth in the wake of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The next stage of the plan will see temporary road closures introduced along Bedford Place from Henstead Road to Carlton Place; along Carlton Place from Bedford Place to Southampton Street; and along Lower Banister Street from Carlton Place to opposite the Popworld establishment. Two-way traffic will be permitted along the lower half of Lower Banister Street while these closures are in place.
A timed road closure will also temporarily be in place along Winchester Street from Carlton Place to Salisbury Street on Friday and Saturday evenings. Again, two-way traffic will be permitted along Waterloo Terrace while these closures are in place.
The closures will be delivered by the council’s Highways Partners, Balfour Beatty Living Places, and will come into effect on Friday 21 August. The measures will provide a safer, more spacious environment and enable people walking through this high footfall area of the city to follow social distancing guidelines with greater ease. Crucially, they will also form an important contribution to the ‘Inside Out’ initiative recently announced by the council and the Southampton Business Improvement District (BID), Go! Southampton.
This new joint project is designed to help businesses in the hospitality sector introduce new or extended outdoor seating while social distancing restrictions limit the delivery of services in indoor settings. The temporary road closures in Bedford Place will enhance this further, giving businesses additional space to operate safely outdoors and creating the potential for increased trade. Indeed, the benefits of walking and cycling are widely recognised, with investment in these areas shown to attract more custom and support economic growth.
The measures will also complement the Government’s new Eat Out to Help Out scheme, recently launched to support the reopening of restaurants. The scheme is currently scheduled to run until Monday 31 August and gives customers the opportunity to get 50% off their meal bills when they dine at participating restaurants on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.
In addition to this, local businesses can now also benefit from new national legislation simplifying the process for pavement license applications. In line with this new legislation, Southampton City Council is also offering a temporary three-month pavement licence for £50, with the option to extend to 12 months for an additional £50. This combination of incentives is expected to bring a welcome boost to local businesses, while contributing to a more pleasant atmosphere in this popular area of the city.
Giles Semper, Executive Director of GO! Southampton BID, says: “We are desperate to see Bedford Place return to its glory days and be the boutique quarter that a city like Southampton deserves. It’s already home to some great high-end retail and to an incredible selection of pubs, bars and restaurants. These days however much of the traffic that visits is heading somewhere else and often putting lives at risk. Our hope is that the closed section of Bedford Place can be dressed and animated in such a way that it creates a new destination that is safe and attractive. For those who doubt, I’d say ‘give it a chance’! This is a trial closure from which we will all learn. Great cities are not created without taking risks, and we applaud the council for having the courage to try something new and different in the face of unprecedented events.”
Councillor Steve Leggett, Cabinet Member for Green City and Place, says:“We’re excited to be delivering this next stage of our plans at Bedford Place. The changes will create a more attractive and safer environment for people wishing to enjoy the many hospitality providers on offer here. These businesses are an important part of our local economy and it’s vital that we support their recovery following the damaging impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality trade. The measures at Bedford Place will do just that, allowing our local businesses to counteract the commercial challenges of social distancing in a successful and innovative way. They will also contribute to our long-term aims to reduce congestion and create an inviting city centre where people want to spend time and invest in our local economy.”