A MAIN road into Winchester city centre is to be closed to through traffic to allow for social distancing.

The county and city councils want to narrow North Walls from two lanes to one, to allow more room for cyclists and pedestrians.

But to reduce traffic onto North Walls no traffic will be allowed onto it from Hyde Street, the only route into the city from the north. The rest of Hyde Street will remain open to traffic.

The emergency measure is currently only temporary but it may become permanent, said a senior city councillor who also serves on the county council.

Some local people fear it will displace more traffic onto Worthy Lane. Bill Hoade, of Worthy Lane, said local people were worried about the impact.

“At the meeting with councillors we expressed our concern at the increased traffic and pollution, on Worthy Lane, the junction with Andover Road, Jewry Street and the Station junction.”

On Sunday they met city councillors including Martin Tod, Paula Ferguson, Kathleen Becker and Dominic Hiscock.

Cllr Tod said: “Everything we do is going to affect some people negatively but overall the goal is to affect Winchester positively.

“We have to make our streets safe and pleasant for people to use in a social distancing way. It is a vital part of the city centre recovery.”

In May Cllr Tod, city council cabinet member in charge of transport, proposed several ideas to encourage walking and cycling and they have been picked up by the county council after a grant from the Government.

Asked whether the closure of Hyde Street may become permanent, Cllr Tod said: “The city council is not allowed now to make these changes permanent. But every change will be evaluated and there would be full public consultation.”

In general, Cllr Tod said he wanted to concentrate cars on fewer roads and make residential roads more-cycling and pedestrian friendly.

Making it easier to get into the city centre may benefit shops and businesses, said Cllr Tod

The measure in North Walls and the narrowing of Jewry Street are being introduced by the Conservative-controlled county council.

In the past the city council has had the powers to close roads, such as College Street and Kingsgate arch in the early 1990s, but it no longer has those devolved powers.