Winchester green campaigners have slated the city’s new transport plan as too weak and a recipe for a “deterioration of residential quality of life.”

The city and county councils have produced an access plan to tackle congestion, pollution and reduce its carbon footprint.

But Winchester Friends of the Earth has criticised many of the proposals as being inadequate.

Mr Gillham, a veteran FoE campaigner involved in Winchester transport issues for more than 30 years, said it did not address the challenges of climate change or sustainability and was too car-friendly.

He told the city council cabinet: “We had expected something more advanced than this. At the heart of the document is a fundamental blindness. The failure of imagination and the failure of will in Winchester is staggering.”

Mr Gillham was unhappy that the plan accepts that the car will carry on dominating people’s travel. He said there were towns in Europe of 150,000 people, four times the size of Winchester, where more journeys are made by bike than car and many places of 25,000 people that are almost car-free.

The city and county councils will consult the public about the plans over the coming months, the cabinet heard.

There have been steps in the right direction, the plans says. For example, bus use in Winchester has grown by 23 per cent between 2005 and 2009. More people are cycling.

The plan is short on concrete radical ideas. It does suggest reducing the number of public car parking spaces in the city centre by 15 per cent, around 400 spaces. That may spell the end for the Chesil Street surface and St Peter’s, off Gordon Road.

It also discusses ‘shared space’, the new idea whereby pavements, street furniture such as bollards, and traffic lights are removed so that pedestrians and cars mingle together. Experience elsewhere shows it slows traffic.

City councillor Stephen Godfrey, a Conservative, said: “I’m disappointed by the plan. There is very little new or specific, which is a huge disappointment.”

Lib Dem councillor Jacey Jackson, the recently-appointed cycling champion, said: “I’m quite disappointed. The plan lacks ambition and imagination.”

Cllr Frank Pearson, Conservative, said a really radical idea to reduce traffic in the city centre would be to put all the long-stay parking in the centre instead of on the edge.

Cllr Keith Wood, Conservative, suggested moving the bus station from Friarsgate to the Gladstone Street car park by the railway station.

He said the main advantage would be to reduce carbon emissions in the lower part of the city which has some of the worst air pollution in Hampshire.

“The access plan is unimaginative and needs a bit of fresh thinking,” he said.

Cllr Brian Collin, the Lib Dem portfolio holder for Winchester and Surrounds, said the plan could not be too controversial: “You can’t ban people from having cars. That is too draconian. We have to make it so that they don’t want to use them.”