CONTROVERSIAL changes to traffic in Winchester city centre look set to be made permanent.

County transport chiefs are drawing up several schemes in the wake of the adoption of the Winchester Movement Strategy.

The overarching vision is to make the city easier to get around by foot, bicycle and bus.

As reported in the Chronicle, the county council, working with the city council, is looking at expanding park and ride, improved and enhanced walking and cycling infrastructure and reconfiguring the city centre to prioritise bus, pedestrian and cycle traffic and reduce car use.

Cllr Rob Humby, deputy leader and executive member for economy, transport and environment, said: “Now the Winchester Movement Strategy has been adopted, we have been working with colleagues at the city council and partner organisations to identify priorities, based on feedback from the public and businesses, on how we can reduce traffic congestion in the city centre, facilitate cycling, encourage walking and improve air quality.

“The Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the changing travel patterns we were already beginning to see, and the Movement Strategy anticipated these developments. With more people already cycling and walking, this is a critical time for us to make changes for the future as the Movement Strategy starts to be implemented alongside Hampshire entering into a stabilisation phase from the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We’re working with colleagues at Winchester City Council every step of the way to ensure an excellent quality of life for those in the community.”

Plans will now be further developed with a view to submitting businesses cases to secure national funding, as and when it becomes available.

Projects prioritised for further development include:

• Options to pedestrianise the Upper High Street, reduce St. George’s Street to a single lane, North Walls to operate as one-way (single lane) allowing pedestrian and cycle route enhancements, Friarsgate, Union Street and Eastgate Street to operate as two-way streets as well as many other preferred scenarios;

• Extending the current park and ride provision at Bar End to provide 300 additional spaces (including electric vehicle charging) and (subject to funding) further extensions to meet projected demand;

• developing nine cycle routes and 13 walking routes to improve conditions for cyclists and pedestrians, particularly to and from the railway station, the university, Romsey Road, North Walls and the city centre;

• Better coordinated freight delivery to reduce congestion and delays in the city centre;

• Working with bus operators and the city council to look to increase park and ride bus frequency and expand bus routes across the city where demand is highest.

City councillor Martin Tod, who has been pressing for measures to help pedestrians and cyclists, said: “The city council is keen to move ahead with the Movement Strategy and deliver tangible improvements soon. It’s an essential part of improving air quality and giving people better options to access our city.

"We are already working on additional park and ride spaces at Bar End and are looking carefully at what funding and support the council can provide in order to make change faster in line with the Movement Strategy objectives. This is a shared project and we look forward to continuing to work with the county council to deliver real improvements in the city and in access to and from it from the rest of the district."

Cllr Tod added: "We’ve worked very closely together on the initial pop-up transport recovery measures in the city and will continue to develop further measures to make our city safe and pleasant to visit and use during recovery from Covid-19, but are also consistent with our long-term plans for the Movement Strategy.”

The Winchester Movement Strategy was adopted last year. It sets out a vision and long-term priorities for travel and transport improvements in Winchester over the next 20-30 years.