Business owners in Shrewsbury have welcomed the planned return of pedestrian-friendly weekends – saying reducing traffic improves the town atmosphere.
The centre of Shrewsbury will be free of through-traffic on weekends from November 20, with Wyle Cop (uphill), Milk Street, High Street and Shoplatch being closed to traffic from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
Calls had been made for the scheme to be reintroduced after a survey of Shrewsbury town centre businesses overwhelmingly supported reducing through-traffic in the town centre.
Shrewsbury Big Town Plan Partnership, made up of Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury Town Council and Shrewsbury BID, is continuing to work on a long-term plan for improving movement in and around the town centre.
In a statement, the partnership said: “Feedback from the recent Masterplan Vision confirmed that traffic, public transport, cycling and pedestrian movement is one of the key issues for the future development of Shrewsbury.
“We are committed to working together on a long-term movement strategy for Shrewsbury, and whilst we recognise the need to balance everyone’s needs, we welcome this trial to improve the town centre environment by reducing through-traffic at weekends.”
Business owners said the removal of traffic had helped to improve the atmosphere and encouraged people to spend longer in the town centre.
John Hall, owner of Write Here in High Street, said: “I’m delighted that the scheme is to start again, albeit in a limited way.
“Pedestrianisation has been a great boost to the High Street, and during the early part of the summer when the road was closed, sales were comfortably up on previous years, including pre-Covid.
“It’s quieter without the constant traffic noise, and people are able to wander about in a far more relaxed way – and the air smelled better.
“Cafe society seems to have arrived in Shrewsbury, when the weather allows, to everyone’s benefit. The atmosphere is better in all ways.”
Gill Gradwell, of Cooking Kneads in Wyle Cop, said the welcoming atmosphere encouraged people to spend more time in the centre of Shrewsbury.
“We feel the pedestrianisation of the town adds to creating a great vibe and atmosphere on the streets,” she added. “It encourages people to explore the town and find hidden treasures.
“Wyle Cop is a haven for discerning shoppers and by meandering down a traffic-free street they can browse shop windows, enter shops easily and take a welcome stop at our fantastic eateries and coffee houses.
“It would also encourage the town to be more inviting for shoppers on Sundays and see more businesses open their doors. Shrewsbury has so much to offer and the scheme will help show the town off.”
Carol Grant, of the Carol Grant fashion shop in The Square, said the atmosphere in the heart of the town was greatly improved when fewer vehicles were using the roads. She said: “It’s wonderful to see so many people visiting Shrewsbury, exploring our cobbled streets, enjoying coffee and lunch outside in the cafes and restaurants in The Square, and shopping in our individual shops in a traffic-free environment.”