Oxford’s city centre will soon welcome back more open social space with a decision made by the Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, Liz Leffman, to temporarily partly pedestrianise Broad Street.
The approval for an experimental traffic regulation order (ETRO) for a temporary public realm scheme of the street was given on Thursday, 21 July, as part of a delegated decision meeting for highways management.
Last year, Oxford City Council transformed the western part of Broad Street into an outdoor space, which contained wildflower meadows, lawns and seating called Broad Meadow during the pandemic. The meadow enjoyed more than 100,000 visitors between July and October.
Around 90 per cent of people responding to a city council consultation on Broad Meadow said they would like to see this happen again. The wealth of positive feedback has helped to inspire the county council’s plan for a new trial of 18 months, covering a larger area of Broad Street.
While there will be traffic restrictions, buses and cycles will have access, and the scheme will include several disabled parking bays.
The preliminary designs have already been shared on the county council’s website and are subject to final changes. For this, the county council engaged with over 150 stakeholder representatives by holding briefing sessions, workshops and site visits.
Key stakeholders that took part included Oxford City Council officers and councillors, bus operators, Historic England, Oxford Preservation Trust, local businesses, emergency services, Oxford University colleges, Oxford Civic Society, Cyclox, COHSAT (Coalition for Healthy Streets and Active Travel), the City Council’s Inclusive Transport & Movement Focus Group and various other interest groups and advocacy groups.
The detailed designs are still being developed and are expected to be shared by late August. This includes finalising the location of disabled parking spaces and bus stops, keeping them at easy access for the public. Construction will only take place after St Giles’ Fair.
Councillor Liz Leffman, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We are really excited that we are delivering the return of this hugely popular space right in the heart of our historic city for everyone to enjoy.
“The new Broad Street project will again be one of the city centre’s largest outdoor inclusive public spaces inviting people to meet and relax between shopping, grabbing a light meal, taking in the sights, or enjoying events that can be staged in the vibrant arts space it provides.
“This year, we are proud to be keeping the project open for a longer time. This is in line with our ambition for Oxford to be a city where everyone can walk and cycle safely, and we are hoping that this will become a permanent feature of the city centre.”