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Gloucestershire Business News

Boots Corner closure has been a success - if you're a pedestrian, cyclist or bus user

The controversial closure of Boots Corner has led to an increase in pedestrians, cyclists and bus travel in Cheltenham, survey data has revealed.

One year on from the decision to close Clarence Street to all but buses and taxis, Cheltenham Borough Council has undertaken a survey.

Using an independent specialist company, pedestrian and cyclist data on the town's High Street has been collected to record if more people are using Boots Corner.

The data was recorded between June 11 and June 17 - exactly one year on from the last set of sample data was collected before the closure.

Comparing the two sets of data showed that number of pedestrians and cyclists using the High Street has more than doubled in 12 months.

Pedestrian usage had gone up 133 per cent over the year, while cycle use had risen by 138 per cent on June 2018.

There was also a 84 per cent increase in the number of parked bicycles and a 142 per cent increase in the number of wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

Cooler weather during the 2019 measuring period meant there was a 28 per cent decrease in the number of people sitting at Boots Corner - despite the installation of new seating.

The increase in the number of people using the High Street has led to a respective increase in the footfall at the Brewery Quarter and the number of people using buses.

Rupert Cox, managing director of Stagecoach West, said: "During the past 12 months we have seen an extra 270,000 bus passenger journeys made across Cheltenham.

"That's around 5,200 per week or a 4.3 per cent growth.

"Our buses have seen an improvement in their punctuality which is up from 92.5 per cent to 93.1 per cent.

"We are also investing more than £2million in 14 new buses for services in the town and they are expected to enter service late in 2019."

Data shared by the Brewery Quarter has revealed a 12 per cent increase in footfall between June 2018 and 2019, with average trade performance up five per cent.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay, cabinet member for development and safety at Cheltenham Borough Council said that the figures showed the closure had been a success.

''This data shows a year on year comparison and it's clear that the trial closure has seen more pedestrians, cyclists and those with limited mobility use the area.

"A Climate Emergency has been declared for Cheltenham and it's essential that we're doing everything in our power to help tackle climate change, reduce carbon emissions and work towards becoming carbon neutral.

''The council's transport plan is clear that greener forms of travel such as walking, cycling and using public transport, particularly for short journeys are to be encouraged to improve the town centre environment and local economy.''

The latest survey is the sixth done on behalf of the council around the trial closure of Boots Corner to traffic.

The surveys show, on average, a 121 per cent increase in the number of pedestrians, a 189 per cent increase in the number of cyclists and a 71 per cent increase in the number of parked bicycles.

The new seating areas around the Boots Corner fountain have seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of people seating, while wheelchair users had increased by 113 per cent.

The trial closure of Boots Corner is part of a wider Council scheme for the improvement of Cheltenham Town centre.

The council recently released a fly-through video highlighting the proposed changes from the Strand to the east, through to the Honeybourne Line bridge at the far west of the High Street.

That includes a complete remodelling of Boots Corner, to create a focal point public square for Cheltenham with only a single lane thoroughfare for buses and taxis.

So far more than £1million has been spent on improving the area outside of the new John Lewis store, with the Strand through to Cambray Place the next area identified for refurbishment.

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