Thomas Street will be made traffic-free seven days per week from this weekend, as part of a plan to make social distancing easier in Manchester city centre.
From Saturday 30 May, Thomas Street will be closed to vehicles, with the exception of daily time windows for loading from 6 – 10am and 6 – 7pm.
As essential lockdown measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 are gradually relaxed, it is hoped that Thomas Street will return to being a thriving part of the Northern Quarter, enjoyed by visitors and residents alike. Excluding motorised traffic from the street will help this to happen by allowing more space for people to walk or cycle through the area, or to queue outside local businesses.
A pedestrian and cycle zone on Thomas Street was introduced on a trial basis, for weekend and Bank Holiday evenings only, in May 2019, after public consultation revealed support for the move.
The council aims to make the change permanent and encourages residents and businesses who wish to provide any feedback to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The change is part of an ongoing programme of work being carried out across the city centre and district centres to create more room for people to socially distance, as well as support local businesses.
The council is conducting a review of the potential for extending traffic-free hours for other city centre areas which have already been pedestrianised – including Canal Street, King Street, Market Street and Exchange Street (St Ann’s Square).
Footway widening schemes have been carried out at London Road and Princess Street in the city centre, plus on Ashton Old Road in Openshaw, Cheetham Hill Road, Wilmslow Road in Rusholme and at Manchester Road, Chorlton, to make more space for people to walk to and from major public transport hubs. This work involves the installation of temporary barriers or cones to create more space for people, with bus stops being relocated and parking bays suspended where required. A range of further footway widening schemes are due to be progressed across the city in the coming weeks.
Footway decluttering work is also currently being planned in the city centre and district centres, to further help with social distancing. This work will involve reviewing whether existing street furniture such as signs and poles can be removed or relocated, to increase the available space for people.
Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, said: “Making Thomas Street a traffic-free zone seven days per week is an important step forward in our plan to help people come back to the city centre more confidently and safely, as the essential restrictions on movement are gradually lifted.
“The Thomas Street pedestrian and cycle zone was embraced positively by local businesses and residents after being introduced on a trial basis last year. This, combined with the vital importance of enabling social distancing to limit the spread of COVID-19, is why we are now making Thomas Street a pedestrian and cycle zone every day, not just on weekends and bank holidays. We encourage all local residents, businesses and people who plan to visit the area after lockdown is eased give us their feedback on this change.”