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City Centre Access consultation - open brief

Footstreet hours

Background to footstreet hours

During ‘footstreet’ hours, all but essential traffic (like emergency vehicles) are banned from certain streets in York city centre.

Before COVID-19, the footstreet hours ran from 10.30am to 5.00pm. In response to the pandemic, these hours were extended to run from 10.30am to 8.00pm in the evening, which allowed more outdoor seating for businesses and space to social distance.

Substantial feedback has supported the temporary later hours, as they have:

  • allowed more people to enjoy the city after 5.00pm
  • allowed an outdoor café culture to develop
  • allowed shops to open later

However other feedback has suggested:

  • some blue badge holders have commented that the extended hours prevent them from accessing York’s evening attractions, events and meetings
  • some food businesses have fed back that it slows down takeaway deliveries as it stops delivery vehicles entering the footstreets

See details of current footstreet arrangements.

What you’ve told us about footstreet times

Some disabled people are able and choose to visit the city centre before the morning footstreet restrictions begin. However, this is not an option for many, for a variety of reasons, including set times for carer support, and, many shops open at 10.00am, so this only allows 30 minutes access. They will often be competing with delivery drivers looking to do the same.

The extension into the evening makes accessing the shops before they close more difficult. This has been a particular issue with services like banks, many of which shortened their opening hours during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The evening extension has affected some people’s ability to attend evening groups on Spurriergate and at Friends’ Meeting House, and once lockdowns are finished with, the 8.00pm finish will have a greater effect on Blue Badge Holders. Most city centre evening and cultural events start before 8.00pm, meaning blue badge user cannot park centrally to attend them.

In addition, business representative groups have told us that the 5.00pm finish discourages the evening economy, by presenting a visual signal to people, including residents leaving work, that the city is closed.

In workshops that were held earlier this year, Blue Badge holders told us that longer evening parking was beneficial to use leisure facilities, such as the theatre, opera house, and York Minster.

One possibility to improve city centre access (for vehicles) is for footstreet hours to start from 12.00 noon on weekdays - this is something we'd like to test with York residents before making any permanent changes to footstreet hours.

A later start time would mean that Blue Badge holders are able to access the services they've said are important, for longer in the mornings, when the streets are less busy with pedestrians, although during some school holidays and the busiest times of year the increased numbers of people may not allow this to happen.

Differing rules at different time would also be inconsistent, which would make signage difficult and could cause confusion.

This would also mean that deliveries, and all other vehicles, would be able to drive in to the footstreet areas too, meaning there could be significantly more traffic at those times and increased risk to pedestrians on busy streets.

We would also have to take clear guidance on whether this would be acceptable under our duties to protect people from terrorism, following instances where a vehicle has been used as a weapon in areas of large footfall in other cities.

Blue Badge holders have told us that using the city centre before 10.30am is not an option for many, for a variety of reasons, including set times for carer support, while many shops opening at 10.00am leaves a very short window.

Key questions we asked about footstreets

Following the summer engagement with the public and stakeholders, we're considering making the permanent hours of footstreets from 10.30am to 7.00pm. Do you agree or disagree with this proposal? If you disagree, what time would you prefer it to end?

If footstreets finished later in the evening, do you agree they should start later on weekdays, and what time would you prefer footstreet hours to start?

This consultation has now closed. Thank you for providing feedback on key questions.

City Centre Access consultation

West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA