Old City and King Street set to be pedestrianised permanently in £2m plan

The area was temporarily pedestrianised two years ago

The Old City and King Street in Bristol’s city centre are set to be pedestrianised permanently in a £2-million plan.

Bristol City Council is preparing to ask for the funding to make major changes to the historic part of the city centre, making certain streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The pedestrianisation plans would also see more outdoor seating space for pubs and restaurants.

Bars along King Street have pushed for pedestrianisation for several years, and the council announced early plans before the pandemic hit. But with the need for social distancing and boosting hospitality businesses, a temporary scheme was introduced in summer 2020.

Now the temporary scheme could soon be made permanent. Transport planners will ask council chiefs to approve the full business case for the pedestrianisation, during a cabinet meeting on June 7.

In a cabinet report, senior transport planner Sam Green said: “The aim of the project is to make the Old City and King Street area pedestrian-friendly by restricting vehicle movements within the project area, to encourage walking and cycling, reduce air pollution, make more street space available for commercial and cultural activities, and improve accessibility.”

Old City and King Street in Bristol’s city centre are set to be pedestrianised permanently in a £2-million plan

The area was temporarily pedestrianised two years ago, to help social distancing and hospitality hit by the coronavirus lockdowns. Plans stretch back further, with the council initially consulting the public on its pedestrianisation plans four years ago.

Mr Green added: “The project will improve space for people, routes for walking and segregation for cyclists away from vehicles. Other benefits include improving air quality, combating climate change, improving health and wellbeing, addressing inequalities and tackling congestion.

“The project will improve the sense of place for the historic centre of Bristol. This will increase economic resilience in the area by encouraging more commercial activity, markets, footfall and future tourism.”

If the cabinet approves the business case, the next step will see council bosses submit a funding bid to the West of England Combined Authority for the project. This is expected to happen in October, and the whole scheme is expected to cost about £2.17 million. It’s not yet clear when construction work would begin, or how long the project will take.

As well as removing through traffic, other parts of the project include dropped kerbs and tactile paving in the Old City, upgrading puffin crossings on Baldwin Street to give pedestrians more priority, and installing new benches on Baldwin Street.