The image above is from Buenos Aires – but it could be St James Street. Even the bins are the same. The crucial difference is the absence of motor traffic – parked and moving, and the pedestrian priority afforded by this absence.
Some residents have suggested that St James Street could be improved by pedestrianisation, and back in November a petition was submitted to the council asking for this to happen.
Although there are clearly potential advantages and benefits to this suggestion – a cleaner environment with better air quality, an improved trading area encouraging greater footfall to a safer and more welcoming public realm, there are also complications and practical issues. Access for buses, for deliveries and collection of goods for example, as well as general access to and from the side roads linking to the seafront or Edward Street.
In response to the petition, the council undertook to investigate the possibilities and practicalities and report back, and an officer is currently working on this report.
This proposal has also been discussed at the community events reported on elsewhere in this site, and a mix of views have been shared around the value or otherwise to residents and businesses.
There are clearly options for taking this forward, ranging from do nothing to complete pedestrianisation, and with the potential middle grounds of removing parking, creating a ‘shared space’, removing through traffic with a filtering scheme (as in North Laine) or just pedestrianising the western end of the street.
It is important to note that there is no actual proposal at present, and the council have not agreed to take any action other than an outline feasibility study of the options, however it is a live community issue and a valuable discussion when considering the future of the street and surroundings, and has been raised several times in the local proposals for the Neighbourhood Action Plan.
What do you think? Please leave your comments on this issue in the box below, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org