Published: Monday, 19 October 2020

Oxford City Council is set to pedestrianise sections of more streets across the city to help cafes, restaurants and bars by enabling them to provide outside seating areas.

The City Council has already provided outside seating areas in Cornmarket Street, St Michael’s Street, and parts of Broad Street and High Street

George Street was also part-pedestrianised during August and September as a trial.

The projects have aimed to support hospitality businesses that needed additional space to be able to operate on a commercial basis whilst maintaining social distancing.

At least four businesses have said they could not have opened after the coronavirus lockdown if it were not for the City Council providing the additional seating areas.

Others have said that having outside tables and chairs has been the difference between them being able to operate commercially and stay open, and having to close and lay off staff.

Now the City Council, with permissions from Oxfordshire County Council as the highways authority, has:

  • Pedestrianised parts of Broad Street to support Cafe Crème, Italiamo and Triple Two Coffee
  • Pedestrianised more of Dawson Street to support Café Coco and Kazbar
  • Removed two parking bays in Observatory Street to support the Jericho Café
  • Extended pedestrianisation of the Cornmarket end of St Michael’s Street 24/7 and extended the scheme to September 2021
  • Extended the outdoor seating area in Cornmarket Street to September 2021
  • Worked with Leon to involve them in the seating area in Cornmarket Street

The majority of the pedestrianisation projects have been funded using the Government’s Reopening High Streets Safely Fund or the City Council’s Community Infrastructure Levy.

Broad Street

The City Council is in discussion with County Council to use part of a loading bay in Broad Street to provide outdoor dining space for Cafe Creme and Italiamo (formerly Mortons).

 Separately, the City Council is also in discussion with County Council about pedestrianising a small section of the road outside Triple Two Coffee in Broad Street to provide an outside seating area.

Both outdoor seating areas, which will provide space during the daytime for about 12 tables, are expected to start later this month (October).

Planters, created by Oxford-based social enterprise RAW for the George Street pedestrianisation trial, will be reallocated and installed around the Cafe Creme and Italiamo seating area to protect those dining.

Dawson Street

The City Council worked with business owners, local councillors and ODS to facilitate the permanent pedestrianisation of more of Dawson Street.

This provides space for an additional 19 tables for Café Coco and Kazbar and a better environment for Rafaela and Coco Home.

The City Council’s wholly-owned company, ODS, has resurfaced the road to make the pavement and highway level and provide an enhanced space for outdoor dining.

A path for pedestrians and cyclists has been left through the middle of the outdoor seating area.

Observatory Street

The City Council has temporarily removed two parking bays in Observatory Street to provide additional outdoor dining space for the Jericho Café.

The pedestrianisation trial, which will operate between 9am and 6pm every day, started on 8 September and will run until 31 December 2020.

Planters, created by Oxford-based social enterprise RAW, have been installed in Observatory Street to protect those dining.

Wider work

The City Council has also extended the operation of the outdoor seating areas in Cornmarket Street and St Michael’s Street to September 2021. Both were previously operating on a temporary basis as a trial.

The St Michael’s Street road closure and pedestrianisation has also been made 24/7. Previously it was only in operation between 10am and 6pm.

The City Council is also working with Leon so they can join the Cornmarket Street outside dining area.

Earlier this week the City Council released results of a survey that showed the overwhelming majority of residents and businesses support pedestrianising George Street in the future.

The survey found that 85.1% of residents and 72.7% of George Street businesses thought the road should be pedestrianised permanently, and a large number of people said they would like to see Broad Street fully pedestrianised in the future.

The pedestrianisation is just part of the work to support businesses in Oxford through the pandemic. Other work has included installing new bike racks across the city and making parking at Oxford’s five park and rides free throughout August.

“Four businesses have told us they would not have reopened after lockdown if we had not provided them with space outdoor for tables and chairs, while others are saying that the project has been the difference between them staying open and not, so this is vital work that is providing a lifeline for businesses and protecting jobs in the city.

“We have plans to pedestrianise other street in Oxford to support businesses, which we are working on urgently in the background. But if there are any other businesses in the city that have not yet got in touch with us and think the area outside their premises could be pedestrianised, please do get in touch.”

Councillor Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for City Centre, Covered Market and Culture

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