Abbeygate Street in Bury St Edmunds to be closed to traffic for longer in 'transformative' project to help businesses reopening after lockdown
A Bury St Edmunds town centre street will be closed to traffic for longer from next month to help cafés and restaurants serve customers outdoors.
The six month scheme will see the traffic closure in Abbeygate Street extended from its current hours of 10am to 4pm, to 8am to 6pm.
The project is being led by Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District, working with West Suffolk Council, to help cafés and restaurants which will be allowed to serve customers outdoors from April 12.
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Our Bury St Edmunds, said: "They won’t be allowed to serve any customers indoors until May 17 at the earliest and even then, the rule of six will apply.
"We are looking at ways with West Suffolk Council, not only for the businesses in Abbeygate Street and Angel Hill to open for longer daytime hours but be able to get more tables and chairs out, all with a view of helping them manage capacity particularly while there are still some restrictions in place.
"When the restrictions are eventually lifted, they will be able to cater for more people for longer, hopefully helping these businesses to get back on their feet."
Cllr Susan Glossop, cabinet member for growth at West Suffolk Council, said they had been working with the BID throughout the past year on the Safer Places initiative, which is about 'giving the public confidence to return to our town centre to shop'.
"The BID hopes that this will help create more activity and footfall, aiming to benefit of the businesses in Abbeygate Street and the wider town centre as well," she said. "We are pleased to support them in this."
Cllr Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member responsible for highways, transport and rural affairs, said the extended closure of Abbeygate Street to traffic will be 'transformative for the area'.
"It will support businesses in the hospitality sector hard-hit by the lockdown to be able to maximise the opportunity for new trade and to aid social distancing," he said.
"I know from past experience that once one or two businesses falter the rest of the street will tumble and fall so it’s really important to make sure we can do all that we can to support businesses to get back on their feet and survive the difficult period they have been through."
The extension of the road closure is also an ambition set out in the town centre masterplan, shaped by 8,000 public comments and adopted by the council in 2017.
The temporary scheme will begin on April 12.
The crossings from High Baxter St into Hatter St, and Lower Baxter Street into Angel Lane, will not be closed under the trial scheme.