Clifton Village pedestrianisation: Business takings down by ‘50 per cent’

“This street is a major artery. What happens when you block an artery? You die of a heart attack.”
Resident Mark Moran on Princess Victoria Street.Resident Mark Moran on Princess Victoria Street.
Resident Mark Moran on Princess Victoria Street.

A controversial pedestrianisation trial on one of Clifton’s busiest roads is destroying the dynamic of the area and could even lead to a fatality, residents and business owners have warned.

The scheme, which sees Princess Victoria Street shut to traffic from 11am to 5pm, was launched in late August and could last for up to 18 months.

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Bristol City Council hope the move will lead to decreased amounts of pollution and cleaner air, creating a more ‘liveable neighbourhood’ - but some claim it is having the opposite if not a more adverse effect.

Upveer Manro, a pharmacist at Clifton Village Pharmacy, told BristolWorld that the number of customers stopping by to pick up prescriptions had dropped significantly, as they were no longer able to park up quickly outside.

“Some customers are disabled or unable to walk here for whatever reason,” he said. “It means we’ve had to carry out more deliveries by car, a bit ironic considering what the pedestrianisation is trying to achieve.”

It’s not just the pharmacy that has been affected - owners of businesses along the road, such as About Face, say they have calculated how far takings have plummeted since the trial began, and estimate it to be ‘around the region of 50 per cent’.

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Mark Moran has lived round the corner from Princess Victoria Street for more than 20 years. He branded the scheme ‘dangerous’ and ‘an imposition’.

He said: “There are two things I’m really concerned about. The first is safety.

“Delivery vehicles are now often at the top of the street blocking the pedestrian crossing, as a matter of fact I saw an elderly man struggling to get across the other day.

“He nearly got hit. Somebody is going to get hit. I think it’s an accident waiting to happen and the solution to that is turning the traffic flow back to the way it was.

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“My second concern is the degredation of the soul of the village, really.

“You can see that Princess Victoria Street is dead, it should be bustling. Normally it would be full of people coming and going, but now they can’t.

“What’s happening is people are going elsewhere, perhaps to Henleaze or Westbury where they can park up easily, so they’re driving further - that’s not very green, is it?

“The impact on businesses has been monumental. That nice ‘cafe culture’ idea about chairs and tables outside isn’t going to hold up in winter.

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“This street is a major artery. What happens when you block an artery? You die of a heart attack. It’s sucking the soul out of the area.”

Debbie, who did not wish to give her surname, lives on Princess Victoria Street with her partner and toddler. She said the pedestrianisation has impacted her family so badly they have decided to move if the trial isn’t reversed.

She said: “Because traffic flow has been stopped on one end of the street, traffic at our end has doubled.

“The noise is probably the worst part, but it’s also a safety issue with a toddler running around.

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“I just don’t feel residents were given a proper chance to have their say at all. The area used to be a very pleasant place to live, but that’s no longer the case.

“Hopefully, it will be a temporary thing. Otherwise we’ll probably leave.”

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: “The pedestrianisation of sections of Princess Victoria Street is a leading example of the changes being made to roads and streets to create more liveable neighbourhoods.

“These changes have been introduced to create areas free from traffic and congestion to improve the local environment as well as support local high streets recover from the pandemic.

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“Feedback from both schemes has been overwhelmingly positive with hundreds of responses supporting the moves to give businesses and citizens more space and improving walking and cycling journeys in the area.

“It is now easier to walk or cycle up to the businesses in the pedestrianised zone, with more places to stop and rest for shoppers and ramps to help people with wheelchairs and pushchairs get from one side of the roads to the other.

“We continue to listen to feedback from businesses and the community to identify improvements that ensure these areas remain accessible to everyone.

“We recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all model. Areas identified for future improvements are being considered on their merits. Any changes to these roads and streets will be based on the needs of the entire neighbourhood.”

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