Closure of Northern Quarter street to traffic sparks contrasting views among business owners
- Pedestrianisation of Thomas Street is part of the Active Travel scheme
- Local businesses have concerns over deliveries and safety
- The council wants the Northern Quarter to be greener and more dynamic for all
The city council has decided to permanently close Thomas Street as part of a new Northern Quarter cycling and walking scheme for summer 2021.
The Northern Quarter can expect an £11.6m walking and cycling route to facilitate active travel between Piccadilly and Victoria railway stations.
Although it will be good news for people on the go, not everyone on the once-lively Thomas Street agrees with the changes.
David Ellis, business owner of Cathedral Jewellers, is concerned about how pedestrianisation of Thomas Street will affect his business and the safety of his customers.
David said: “Before, our customers could just stop outside and run up with it [jewellery].
“It’s great if you’re in hospitality on this street, it seems like they’re the only people that matter out there now.”
Mr Ellis has worked on Thomas Street for 40 years and feels the council has made the decision without considering businesses on the street.
He said: “It’s going to mess us up because we’ve got a lot of deliveries – like oxygen bottles.”
Neil Greenwood, photography artist at Thomas Street Studios, also agrees that closure is not practical for business with large and heavy deliveries, which don’t always arrive during the loading windows of 6am-10am and 6pm-7pm.
However, he does see the street closure as a positive change which offers locals and visitors a safe space to socialise in without cars.
He said: “Generally I don’t think it’s a bad thing.
“It’s a lovely little vibe out here when the sun’s out and people are out drinking.”
The scheme will also permanently close Ducie Street and implement changes to Dale Street and Tariff Street, including new cycle stands, reduced street parking, and a one-way road restriction to widen the footway on Tariff Street.
Greater Manchester’s cycling and walking commissioner, Chris Boardman, said: “While the Bee Network is about active travel, the space to do that doesn’t always have to be a segregated strip of tarmac, it can simply be a car-free or very low-car environment in which you can choose to stride, ride, roll, or linger.
“The Northern Quarter scheme will facilitate all these activities and much more.”
Work has already started after public consultation last winter and – depending on future public feedback – further work could be implemented on other locations such as Shudehill and Stevenson Square.
Environment, planning and transport Councillor Angeliki Stogia, said: “We want to make it more dynamic, attractive, and greener for all, while supporting our local independent businesses too.”