ANOTHER city centre street will be closed to traffic during the day to allow for outdoor dining and boost businesses.

George Street is set to be part-pedestrianised for one month from Saturday, August 22, to increase capacity for 11 pubs, cafes and restaurants.

A road closure will be in place between New Inn Hall Street and Cornmarket Street from 10am to 9.30pm each day, with businesses asked to clear their areas from 9pm.

The move follows the pedestrianisation of St Michael’s Street, while outdoor seating has been set up in areas of Cornmarket Street and Broad Street.

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It is designed to boost traders and Leah Villacorta, general manager of participating business Oxford Brunch Bar, is optimistic about the changes.

She said: "As an independent business, we have drastically felt the impact of Covid-19.

“Although the government initiatives are helpful, we are always looking for a way to improve.

“We feel that the temporary pavement pedestrianisation is an excellent next step to support the many businesses on George Street.

“We hope to see improvement in sales and general foot traffic to George Street, not just for cafes but also for the restaurants and shops."


Oxford City Council, working with Oxfordshire County Council, said it ‘anticipates’ the measures will come into force from August 22, with the closure ending on Sunday, September 20.

The 11 businesses involved include restaurants Ask Italian and Gourmet Burger Kitchen, plus pubs The Grapes and Wig and Pen, with other traders able to join in future.

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It comes as the city centre continues to feel the impact of lockdown restrictions, with footfall in the week commencing July 27 down 61.6 per cent year-on-year.

Businesses such as O’Neill’s Oxford, another George Street pub involved in the scheme, are being required to operate with several safety measures.

General manager Eamon O’Sullivan said: “Having the ability to let guests use outside spaces is a key factor in the continuous provision of safe places to eat and drink in Oxford city centre.

“Working together with the councils and other associated authorities, we can create new beginnings that will help drive income for business and ensure that our guests are being well looked after.”

Large planters – created by Oxford-based social enterprise RAW – will be installed to block vehicles and these could be placed in other pedestrianised areas.

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Seating space has been set up for The Plough at 38 in Cornmarket Street, while a similar scheme is in place outside Blackwell's bookshop and The White Horse pub in Broad Street.


Meanwhile, the city council is lobbying the county council – which has the final say – to pedestrianise Broad Street and create Oxford’s first European-style plaza.

Deputy city council leader Tom Hayes, who is also cabinet member for green transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, said:

“Businesses need support to serve as many customers as possible and giving George Street back to the people by emptying it of vehicles is the right solution.


“Our part-pedestrianisation is, of course, a trial run, but we’ll be watching and learning as we do with all trials.”

The measures are only possible due to a fall in traffic on the normally-busy street, but the two-way cycle lane will be retained.

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The two councils are proposing to further reduce congestion by installing two temporary bus gates in the city centre, with a public survey on the controversial plans receiving more than 7,000 responses.

Bus services will be affected by the road closure, with stops in George Street moved to one or more of Gloucester Green Bus Station, Beaumont Street and Magdalen Street.

Chris Coleman, managing director of Stagecoach Oxfordshire, backed the move and promised passengers would be notified of the changes.

He said: "It has never been so important for the community to support the city's hospitality to aid in its recovery from COVID-19.

“Whilst the pedestrianisation will impact several of our services, we recognise that it will provide the much needed outdoor space for businesses to operate alongside an inviting alfresco experience for customers.

"The proposed bus gates are very important to address the long standing issues with traffic congestion and will enable us to run more punctual and reliable services across the city and provide an appealing alternative to the car as part of the need to improve active travel across the county."