City centre roads to close and big changes to Preston ahead of reopening
Written by Skywave Radio News on June 12, 2020
The closure of several city centre side roads at their junctions with Fishergate and the introduction of a new pop-up cycle lane are amongst the changes being implemented in Preston this weekend to prepare for the reopening of non-essential retailers from Monday.
The plans have been announced as part of a package measures to help ensure that social distancing is maintained, even as more people start to return to the city’s streets.
Lune Street, Winckley Street, Cannon Street and Fox Street will be shut to vehicles where they meet Fishergate in order to create more room for pedestrians at what could otherwise become pinch-points. Diversions will be put in place from Sunday afternoon, along with advance notice for drivers on the approach to the closures.
Motorists travelling across Preston during trading hours are encouraged to avoid using Fishergate as a through-route and instead use alternatives such as Ring Way.
A new cycle lane will appear on Penwortham Hill during the course of Friday from the junction with Cop Lane to the point where it meets the segregated cycle lane on Liverpool Road. Others have recently been introduced on Winckley Square and part of Fylde Road, as people are encouraged to cycle and walk wherever possible – and avoid public transport unless it is absolutely necessary.
Elsewhere, some on-street parking on St. Wilfred Street and Charnley Street will be suspended to give more room for vehicles to manoeuvre due to the closure of the Fox Street at its junction with Fishergate.
Some minor changes to bus stops on Fishergate will also be made and indicated by signage at the relevant stops.
Plans are also being drawn up for an enhanced cleaning regime, safety messages, support for businesses and other practical steps to improve the experience of those who may be returning to the city centre for the first time in three months
These measures – which may include increased planting – are likely to be funded from the £125,000 that Preston has received from the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, announced by the government last month. Preston City Council’s cabinet will approve exactly how the money – originating from the European Regional Development Fund – will be spent when it meets later this month.
The authority’s leader, Matthew Brown, said that the city was looking forward to welcoming visitors back, but made an appeal for people to look out for each other.
“We ask that everyone takes personal responsibility in protecting themselves and others by following government guidance.
“There are new ways we can be courteous to others, such as limiting the spread of germs by not picking up things we are not going to buy, giving everyone space and keeping our hands as clean as possible.
“The success of the high street and city centre as a whole is of utmost importance to us, but so is the health of our residents – whether they are consumers, employees or business owners. We are working very hard to achieve a careful balance of supporting the local economy while maintaining the lowest possible risk to everyone.
“Everyone has a part to play and the council is proud to serve our residents by doing everything we are able to make a visit to the city centre as safe and enjoyable as possible.”
Meanwhile, Preston businesses are also funding a series of other safety measures. Business Improvement District (BID) manager Mark Whittle said that the organisation’s “foremost priority is to help city centre businesses get back on their feet”.
He added: “Our measures include an increased programme of pavement cleaning and street furniture disinfecting, increasing the number of public hand sanitising banks, distributing tens of thousands of free face coverings to visitors, supporting retailers with their practical preparations and applying pavement and street signage in order to encourage social distancing.
“The programme introduced by the BID, funded by city centre businesses, ensures that the city centre is a safe place to visit with suitable measures in place to encourage customer confidence.
“We also look forward to working with the city council on a co-ordinated messaging campaign to ensure visitors can enjoy their time in the city centre safely,” Mr Whittle said.
Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for highways, Keith Iddon, urged people to plan their journeys into Preston – and for motorists to avoid Fishergate.
“The temporary road closures are needed to reduce the number of vehicles on Fishergate to help others maintain social distancing.
“These temporary measures are part of our emergency response to help Lancashire control and recover from the coronavirus and we will keep them under review.”
Rules surrounding the use of the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund mean that it cannot be used to cover the cost of permanent changes to the public realm.