Independent Southsea shops in Portsmouth hope to welcome more trade with pedestrianisation of road
PASSIONATE independent traders in Portsmouth are hoping to welcome more customers after the pedestrianisation of their street has created a ‘special’ atmosphere.
A section of Castle Road, in Southsea, was temporarily closed off to cars at the beginning of September using bollards and road signs to allow for social distancing.
Now shop owners are hoping the change could become a permanent fixture claiming it has provided a more relaxed environment for shoppers.
City artist Pete Codling, 50, whose studio is along Castle Road, said: 'We have all lost out this year, it's been really tough for so many businesses. But now I think with the road closure we've had some of our busiest weekends.
'People can enjoy wandering in and out of shops without the worry of cars. Before this was used as a rat run and there were some accidents as people had to step off the pavement for social distancing.
'Later this month we're hoping to have some market stalls along here.
'We have got something really special down here. We're really passionate about what we provide. The long term goal is to keep this pedestrianised.'
Tony Wood, 52, who runs Barbership and Tony Wood Hair in the clock tower, agreed. 'Everybody's really optimistic coming back from lockdown,' he said.
'From a business point of view we have to do two things: making sure everybody's safe and has enough space and reinventing ourselves and trying new things and that's exactly what the pedestrianisation has allowed us to do.'
As part of the road closure it is also planned that planters will soon be put in place along the road to make it more welcoming.
There were also hopes it would improve air quality in the area.
Shopowner Lorraine Randell, 55 who runs Revive Interiors said: 'It's a much nicer place to be because we haven't got the big lorries coming down here, cars running creating fumes.'
Diana Parks, 75, who works in Brocante said: 'I am happy because I have seen the traffic going up and down this road far too quickly.
'It's a much nicer, quieter environment now where people are happier to come and have a look round the shops.'
The closure came as part of several changes to roads in the city under the emergency active travel scheme that looked to boost cycling and walking during the pandemic.
A public consultation would be held by the council before making the closure permanent.
Most traders along a Southsea road have welcomed the closure of their street to cars.
However, one shop owner in Castle Road has concerns he may be 'forced to close' if it continues.
The owner of the Castle Convenience Store said sales dropped by 38 per cent since a section of the road was shut to cars on September 9.
Mehul Shukla, 33, said: 'I could have to close in a couple of months time because the business is down by 38 per cent since the first of September.
'The council didn't make any parking facilities anywhere. We are not getting supplies through because there's no access. And I have lost a contract with Hermes.
'They need to provide time for the deliveries to come though. They have shut this road for social distancing but this road is quite quiet anyway - there was no need to close it in the first place. '
Councillor Lynne Stagg, the council's traffic and transport boss, said: 'We have created a number of temporary changes across the city to deliver safe space for walking and cycling during the pandemic.
'This includes the closing Castle Road to vehicles on September 9, 2020. This has created a pleasant space for cafes to use the road whilst also creating a safe space for walkers and cyclists.
'These changes have been put in quickly and we are listening to people's feedback to make sure they work well for businesses, residents and users of the route.
'On Castle Road we were told by a business that it would help if deliveries could be made earlier and we are amending the order to enable this.
'A full public consultation would be held before a decision is made as to whether to make changes permanent.'