Oxford City Council is set to pedestrianise North Parade Avenue in north Oxford to support hospitality businesses by providing space for outside seating areas.
The pedestrianisation, which has been supported by Oxfordshire County Council and local councillors, was requested by the North Parade Residents and Traders Association.
This will provide an outdoor seating area for seven businesses: Barefoot Bakery, Burrito Valley, Jee Saheb, Little Venice Pizzeria, The Rabbit Hole, The Rose & Crown, and Viny’s Café.
The option for outdoor seating will be available from 10.00am to 6.00pm between Sunday and Thursday, and from 10.00am to 7.00pm on Friday and Saturday.
The road will be closed using an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order, and new gates will be installed to protect the central seating area.
Additional space will be created for the outdoor seating area by moving 11 bike racks further west along the road to replace two car parking spaces.
The road closure will initially be run as a trial for up to 18 months under the experimental order, with a six-month consultation period at the start. If successful, an application could be submitted to make it permanent.
The City Council has supported dozens of cafes, restaurants and bars across Oxford by pedestrianising or part-pedestrianising roads to create space for outdoor dining, including Cornmarket Street, St Michael’s Street, Broad Street, Dawson Street and Observatory Street. George Street was also part-pedestrianised during August and September as a trial.
The projects have aimed to support hospitality businesses that needed additional space to be able to operate on a commercial basis whilst maintaining social distancing.
At least four businesses have told the City Council that they could not have opened after the coronavirus lockdown if it were not for the City Council providing the additional seating areas.
Others have said that having outside tables and chairs has been the difference between them being able to operate commercially and stay open, and having to close and lay off staff.
The City Council is working with several other businesses in the city centre and local shopping areas around Oxford on possible additions to the initiative, where the road and pavement layout, traffic conditions and potential impacts on others uses allow.
The majority of the pedestrianisation projects have been funded using the Government’s Reopening High Streets Safely Fund or the City Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy.
Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for City Centre, Covered Market and Culture said: “Businesses and residents in North Parade approached us to pedestrianise the street to provide space for outdoor dining, and I am delighted that we have been able to make it happen.
“With coronavirus restricting the number of tables allowed inside, that these outdoor dining spaces are invaluable for cafes, restaurants and bars across the city. We know that at least four businesses would not have opened following the summer lockdown without the City Council pedestrianising the road outside their business.”
Chris Williams, Chair of North Parade Residents & Traders Association said: “For many years we have sought to pedestrianise our unique shopping parade for the benefit of residents and traders. And now, both the City and County Councils have backed up our proposal and brought together an exciting project. We are thrilled to welcome the wider community to safely enjoy our shops, cafes, restaurants and public houses.”
Councillor James Fry, who represents North ward said: “North Parade has long been an ideal candidate for pedestrianisation and the sad realities of COVID-19 provided an opportunity to do so, with the overwhelming support of residents and businesses in the area.
“This short street has two pubs, one full service restaurant and six cafés/takeaways. It is wonderful that we have made it easier for small businesses to serve a larger number of customers. As the weather warms up, we should see the full benefit.”
Councillor Liam Walker, Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Highways Delivery and Operations said: “Oxfordshire County Council, as the highways authority, is happy to support the hospitality industry in North Oxford.
“By enabling this pedestrianisation of the road to take place, these businesses can maintain social distancing amongst their customers while creating extra space for diners.”