Bristol businesses react as Cotham Hill could be pedestrianised for good

Restaurants and cafes have been given extra trading space to boost business Credit: Bristol Live

Bristol businesses are welcoming the council’s plans to permanently pedestrianise a much-loved street.

Cotham Hill has been closed to traffic since April to support businesses reopen during the pandemic and help the environment.

Although the closure was initially temporary, Bristol City Council says it will be making the scheme permanent after positive feedback from people living and working in Cotham.

Shops were given extra trading space to comply with Covid restrictions and hospitality venues were permitted to use the street for outdoor seating areas.

Two parts of the road have been closed to through traffic - the section between Whiteladies Gate and Hampton Lane, and between Hampton Park and Abbotsford Road.

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: "Feedback on the scheme has been overwhelmingly positive, with hundreds of responses supporting the changes to give businesses and citizens more space, and improve walking and cycling journeys in the area.

“While the intention remains to make arrangements at Cotham Hill permanent, the road closure is currently under a Temporary Traffic Order and there will be further consultation on the design of the scheme before any permanent closure.”

The news has been welcomed by local businesses, many of them hospitality venues with limited indoor space for social distancing measures.

Claire Hurst of Jon Hurst Hairdressing said: “We love it. Closing Cotham Hill to traffic has made it a much calmer, quieter and safer environment which is reflected in our salon and is enjoyed by both our staff and clients.

“It has also had a huge bonding effect on the local traders simply because we are all spending a lot more time outside enjoying the 'café society' this initiative has brought to the area.

“The combination of great local indie businesses and the pedestrianisation has made Cotham Hill a real Bristol destination and definitely increased footfall. We are keeping our fingers crossed that this becomes permanent.”

Dominic Borel and Ben Harvey from Pasta Loco Credit: John Myers

Ben Harvey of Pasta Loco restaurant said the pedestrianisation scheme on Cotham Hill had been a ‘huge lifeline' when his restaurant was granted permission to use the outdoor space.

He said: “For us, it has meant that we can operate in safer conditions which has been beneficial both to our customers and staff alike.

“It enabled us to reopen with relatively little stress and in turn getting our staff back into work in an environment that they were happy to operate in.

“There have been those that have voiced their opposition to the scheme, and I can understand their frustration as it's hard to please everyone.

“I think what’s important going forward with a permanent scheme is that we as a community sit together to work out how best the change can be rolled out to make sure all those are in favour of what happens.

Kieran and Imogen Waite, owners of Bravas Credit: John Myers

Kieran Waite, co-owner of Bravas tapas restaurant, said: “The pedestrianisation has been a lifeline for local businesses during a really difficult time.

“It has increased the character and appeal of the street and enhanced interactions amongst the community. I think one positive thing that may come out of the pandemic is Bristol joining more of an outside culture, even in the colder months. We’d fully support permanent pedestrianisation of Cotham Hill.”

Dan Williams owns Coffee + Beer. He described the pedestrianisation of Cotham Hill as ‘a phenomenal success’.

“We have had our best ever summer months in terms of turnover and it has brought many new customers, who may not have noticed us before, into our shop.

“Hopefully, the scheme is made permanent and we can adapt our offering to suit the colder winter months.

“However, regardless of how it has affected my business, the most important thing about the pedestrianisation is the fact that the road is much safer for all to use.

“I have spent the past four years watching many a near miss involving pedestrians, cyclists and cars and in the past five months since pedestrianisation, I have seen none of these incidents.