Connor Burgher believes the decision made by the States to extend the closure of Broad Street to traffic until the end of 2021 presents an ‘exciting opportunity’ to trial pop-up events in the area.
The States yesterday approved a proposition from St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft which maintains current traffic restrictions which were implemented initially as a result of the pandemic by 41 votes to four, with Deputies Mike Higgins, Lindsay Ash, Graham Truscott and Trevor Pointon voting against.
Mr Crowcroft’s proposition creates a ‘pedestrian-priority’ area in the centre of town, with through access for cyclists and controlled access for buses. A public consultation will also take place during the trial.
Extra on-street parking for disabled drivers will also be introduced near to Broad Street by 31 July, while work is to be undertaken to enhance the ‘appeal’ and ‘vibrancy’ of the area, and support the commercial centre of town.
During yesterday’s States sitting, Mr Crowcroft said the move was an opportunity to ‘build back better’ in Broad Street. He added: ‘Some of the changes brought by the pandemic have made towns and cities better places to move around.
‘I have been lobbied on both sides of the debate. It is a matter that has divided opinion in the Island.’
Mr Crowcroft accepted amendments from Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis and Deputy Inna Gardiner. Members committed to Deputy Gardiner’s amendment to introduce extra on-street parking for disabled drivers in town by 31 July, particularly close to Broad Street, following consultation with Liberty Bus. A review will also be taken into cycling, and servicing and delivery access to business premises on Broad Street.
Meanwhile, Deputy Lewis’s amendment means he will work with the parish ‘to facilitate and enable initiatives that enhance the appeal and the vibrancy of the pedestrian area and support the commercial centre of town through the creation of a sustainable transport corridor’. This would be subject to any public health restrictions.
Commenting on the decision, Mr Burgher said: ‘It is a great opportunity to turn Broad Street into a vibrant space by setting up pop-up stalls and events which will help drive footfall into town. An additional al-fresco seating area is also another option,’ he said.
‘It has been impossible to trial any pop-up offerings during Broad Street’s closure period, so far, as Covid restrictions have not allowed us to do so.’
Mr Burgher said he would ‘like to think’ that the impact of the extended closure to traffic would have a ‘positive impact’ on the surrounding businesses.
He added: ‘We will work with the surrounding businesses and support them throughout this process. This will work on a trial and error basis, doing nothing is not an option. Footfall is down and we need to change that.
‘Footfall is particularly good on Broad Street and it is a prime spot to have things like pop-up events which will attract attention. There are different rules for places like the Royal Square where there is noise restrictions and limits on what we can and cannot do.’
Tomasz Tura, owner of the Blue Note Bar, said he supports the closure of Broad Street to traffic ‘if it is done properly’.
‘It could make a really positive and vibrant space which will draw people in. However, it needs to be done properly and not just left as an empty tarmac road. I would like to see them pave the road and introduce more green space by planting trees,’ he said.