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Winchester green campaigners say traffic restrictions could boost trade

Published in the Hampshire Chronicle on Wednesday 26th October 2011

Winchester Friends of the Earth claim restrictions on cars could actually boost city centre business. The group believes that limiting traffic in the city centre can encourage footfall while helping the environment. Using case studies in Brighton and Lübeck in Germany, campaigners argue for a shared space system, where pedestrians have priority but cyclists, public transport and delivery vehicles can also use the roads.

Part of the High Street has such a system but Friends of the Earth said a radical approach was needed for the rest of the city. The study in Lübeck showed that a shared-space system generated 35 per cent more footfall while traffic dropped by two thirds, reducing carbon monoxide by 75 per cent.

The issue has resurfaced after local debate on the future of Winchester car parks. Friends of the Earth wants to reduce them in number whilst some shopkeepers say they are vital to keep trade.

It could be debated at the public meeting over the future of development in Winchester at the Theatre Royal tomorrow evening. (Thursday) Chris Gillham, a spokesman for FoE, said: “Without a radical transport rethink it is clear that Winchester cannot easily increase access of people to its shops and other attractions and that economic growth of Winchester is prevented by its current transport arrangements. “A radical approach would simultaneously address the question of providing efficient transport access (public transport) and the question of how the shopping and leisure environment could be made more attractive.”

He added: “Winchester is only a little short of gridlock throughout the day, meaning that it has no significant capacity to increase car-borne access, no matter what car parking is provided.”

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