Coronavirus: Newcastle city centre to allow for social distancing

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Artist's impression of new Grey Street lay outImage source, Ryder Architecture
Image caption,
The plan is to reconfigure Grey Street so people can walk and cycle while social distancing

Significant changes to Newcastle city centre are being planned to allow for social distancing as the coronavirus lockdown is relaxed.

The city council intends to introduce one-way walking routes and two-metre markings on pavements.

Benches, street furniture and on-street parking will be removed and marshals deployed to enforce the new system.

Council leader Nick Forbes said the "immediate focus is on how people can safely move around".

"We have to address these fundamental issues first and foremost to help businesses as they begin to reopen and start the process of rebuilding our economy," he said.

The measures are temporary but the council was looking at how they might fit with longer term ambitions for the city regarding traffic and pollution, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

On-street parking will be removed from the historic Grey Street, with cyclists and pedestrians given more space both there and on Gallowgate and Queen Victoria Road, by the Royal Victoria Infirmary. 

Further changes are expected to Northumberland Street, Blackett Street and St Thomas' Street in the city centre and to residential areas, school routes and shopping areas outside the centre, such as Gosforth High Street.

Pedestrian crossings will stop traffic more often to prevent large groups waiting to cross the road.

The council also wants bus routes to be more efficient to avoid long queues at bus stops.

Car parking charges will resume on Monday to discourage private car journeys.

Cabinet member Arlene Ainsley said government advice for people to avoid public transport would mean "in the short term some people will choose to make journeys by car".

"But we would strongly recommend going by bike or on foot wherever possible," she said.

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