Work has begun to pedestrianise Broad Street as part of an 18 month trial which will provide an outdoor social space in the city centre.
The project follows the success of Broad Meadow, an outdoor space introduced by Oxford City Council last year.
The artificial meadow was visited by more than 100,000 people between July and October 2021, with around 90 per cent of people responding to a city council consultation saying they would like to see it happen again.
Oxfordshire County Council chose to build on this positive response from the public and approved an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) for a temporary public realm scheme in Broad Street on July 21, as part of a delegated decision meeting for highways management.
The trial scheme, which will last for 18 months between autumn 2022 and spring 2024, will create a pedestrian space wider than that of Broad Meadow.
Comprised of seating and planters, the environment will aim to create a place for people to meet and socialise in the city centre, as well as “take a break and enjoy the area between working, sightseeing, shopping, dining, or seeing shows or concerts”.
While there will be traffic restrictions, buses and cycles will have access and the scheme will include several disabled parking bays.
Andrew Gant, cabinet member for highway management at Oxfordshire County Council, shared a video of himself at in Broad Street as work got underway on Twitter.
He said: “It is probably only councillors that can get excited about a green bag on a parking ticket machine and a few cones but look at this – no cars.
“This exciting project to re-claim Broad Street as one of the finest street scenes in the whole of Europe is underway and I am just thrilled and delighted. This is going to be a great space, lets make it only the start."
Really thrilled to see work underway to reclaim Broad Street from parked cars. Great to chat to the team making this exciting project a reality pic.twitter.com/BTbCeFrbtV
— Andrew Gant (@AndrewGant3) September 8, 2022
An Oxfordshire County Council spokesperson said: “Following the positive feedback to the Broad Meadow in 2021, we are planning a new, longer trial, lasting up to 18 months and covering a larger area of Broad Street.
“This new Broad Street scheme will offer a larger public space for the local community, businesses and event organisers to use during the trial from autumn 2022 to spring 2024.
“The delivery of the scheme is timed to fit with other key works and events affecting Broad Street, and we expect people should be able to enjoy it regardless of the season, particularly given the length of this scheme.
“The popular Christmas market is planned to be running as usual, and we have worked closely with them to plan how the layout of the stalls and the scheme’s seating and planters work best together.”
This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.
You can get in touch with her by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry
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