A test to see how a virtually traffic-free Wind Street will benefit Swansea is to begin on Monday, August 3.
It will see vehicles allowed there only from 7-11am every day – and entry will be for loading purposes only.
The road will remain one-way in the direction of Victoria Road, accessed from the junction of Caer Street and Castle Street.
Non-loading motorists will not be able to use Wind Street during the six-month trial. They should use Caer Street and Princess Way instead. Nearby car parks include the council facility in The Strand and the NCP’s City Gates multi-storey.
Emergency services vehicles will have the access they need.
The trial rules – that follow consultation with businesses and residents – will mean the street’s businesses have a daily slot for deliveries. Cafes and bars will have more chance to trade outside during the day and into the evening.
At the moment, Wind Street is open to one-way traffic of all natures 24/7. Before lockdown it was normally closed on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings and nights – and for selected other occasions such as big sporting fixtures.
The new move is being driven by Swansea Council which wants to help the local economy and lifestyles bounce back from the pandemic – and, through a new regeneration scheme, forge a new role the street could have in the city centre’s ongoing multi-million pound transformation.
There is already a streamlined process for city centre hospitality businesses to secure permission to create outdoor eating and drinking opportunities, and grant funding is available for outdoor furniture.
Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member investment, regeneration and tourism, for said: “We want local business to be given every chance to succeed at this difficult time whilst keeping staff and customers safe.
“We also want to make progress on our existing plans to make Wind Street more suitable for all-day trading in a more family-friendly environment.
“As part of a comprehensive city centre regeneration programme we’re working hard on improving Wind Street for the future and keeping people safe there now and as we emerge from lockdown.
“To help improve the Wind Street environment for residents, businesses and customers, we’ll be investing more than £2m in improvements with some early work starting there shortly, following further community engagement.”
Mark Thomas, cabinet member for environment enhancement and infrastructure management, said: “We hope the new traffic orders will give motorists clarity about Wind Street’s regulations, help pedestrians get greater enjoyment from the street and be a shot in the arm for local business.
“We want the street to be more accommodating for the thousands who enjoy living, working and visiting there.
“In future there will be more emphasis on pedestrian priority to support businesses during the day and at night-time. The new scheme will, in due course, see Wind Street have additional footway space and an improved road, all at one level with footway and carriageway improvement. It will remain one-way to traffic.
“There will be new public lighting, new pea lighting in trees, new street furniture and more green infrastructure. There’ll be more seated areas to create a more family-friendly environment. It will bring the street more in line with its original concept as a cafe quarter.”
Russell Greenslade, chief executive of Swansea BID (Business Improvement District), said: “We’re glad that these traffic orders are being put in place as swiftly as possible. They will help businesses bounce back after lockdown and plan for a long-term new feel for Wind Street
“We need to acknowledge people’s desire to socialise while they shop as part of their visitor experience.
“Improved pedestrian areas encourage a broader mix of people to visit city centres. This would be a logical and a healthy step for Wind Street and would complement the rest of Swansea city centre on its regeneration journey.”
Before lockdown the council was working with partners, businesses and residents on plans make the street more pedestrian-friendly, allowing more of a daytime economy. This work continues.
A feasibility study carried out in partnership with BID highlighted a number of options for how the street could look and operate in future. This was the basis on which a Welsh Government funding contribution to improve the street was secured.
The council plans to announce further details soon on how they will take forward this wider plan for Wind Street. It will work closely with the community.
To help facilitate the delivery of improvement works on Wind Street, an experimental traffic regulation order will close the road to traffic with access permitted for loading and unloading only from 7am until 11am daily.
A separate traffic order will see the same closures from August 3-5 to allow hospitality businesses to react swiftly to any relaxation of the Welsh Government’s outdoor-only food and drink restrictions.
The council is working on putting new road signs in place.
The experimental traffic order will be in place for six months at which point the council will evaluate its effects.
Welsh Government regulations allow only outdoor eating and drinking now although indoor hospitality could be allowed from Monday.
Social distancing guidelines still apply, customers must be at tables and customers are being urged to book ahead if that facility is offered.