Alliance Councillor Peter McReynolds has said now is the time to revisit the pedestrianisation of Belfast City Centre, and he has called for the DFI Minister to conduct a full consultation as a matter of urgency.
With Belfast City Centre moving to the recovery phase of the Coronavirus crisis, Peter said pedestrianisation and offering retailers greater use of pavement space would be an essential way to aid businesses get back on their feet.
He said: “In many ways the aftermath of the Primark fire was the dress rehearsal for what now needs to happen on a grander scale in the Covid-19 recovery phase.
“When we come out of this, citizens and businesses are going to face a significant challenge to maintain social distancing in the city centre, in potential queues at shops and retailers will need fresh opportunities to sell items outside their shops.
“Pedestrianisation of spaces in the City Centre will also help maintain the health benefits we have seen during this time, such as healthier air quality, an increase in active travel and more space for pedestrians to move.
“We need to look at this from all aspects, which is why a full consultation gives everyone a chance to have their say, to address concerns of how access for those living with disabilities will be maintained and what the impact on public transport will be.
“Other cities across the UK have taken the step to reimagine their city through pedestrianisation and I think now is a great opportunity for Belfast to do the same.
“Most parties in Belfast City Council have previously voiced support for the pedestrianisation of city centre and I would call on the Minister for Infrastructure to form a steering group and launch a consultation on the matter to see which parts of the city could be changed as a matter of urgency.”