Thornbury plans will 'rip heart and soul' from market town, council told

  • Watch Richard Payne's report

A council is being accusing the ripping the heart and soul from an historic market town by making its high street largely pedestrianised.

Hundreds of people protested on Saturday (April 9) against South Gloucestershire Council's plans for Thornbury High Street.

South Gloucestershire Council brought in restrictions as part of safety measures during the Covid lockdown which it now wants to keep in a bid to reduce through-traffic.

It will mean access is for buses, delivery vehicles and those used by disabled people. The council says there will also be limited waiting spaces for shoppers.

But opponents argue the plans will kill it off, saying the high street is already largely empty as a result of temporary measures.

Instead people want the high street to be reopened fully or for a one-way system to be introduced for all traffic.

"There are some people who like the closure, but they would be a small minority," says shop owner John Riddiford, the third generation of his family to have had a presence on the street for almost a century.

"Most people you talk to hate it. Our sales are down substantially due to the lack of people. It's like the life and soul have been ripped out of the high street completely." 

Ashley Smith, of Thornbury Town and District Residents' Association, said of the council: "Their economic plan doesn't add up. The street is very, very quiet normally but they think this is going to bring more people to the shops. They haven't consulted properly with the shops as they say they have."

The council says it has invested heavily in the high street.

In a statement to ITV News, it said: "We want local people to help shape these plans and we are working hard to ensure they are fully engaged throughout the process.

"The changes are intended to benefit anyone shopping, walking, cycling or enjoying outdoor seating with less traffic, making it a more pleasant place to be."

The march on Saturday 9 April was the latest in a series of protests against the plans which has involved West of England Mayor Dan Norris.

He threatened to withhold millions of pounds of support after claims the council failed to listen to the public's views.