The square at the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter is to be designated as a temporary pedestrian and cycle-only zone from Friday 3 July.
The move comes as part of Manchester City Council’s work to create more road space for people as they return to the city centre with the easing of the Covid-19 lockdown. With pedestrians still urged to maintain social distancing, councils across the country are looking to reduce motor traffic to provide the necessary space.
Ducie Street, near Manchester Piccadilly station, will also be closed to traffic between London Road and Dale Street from Friday, while Withy Grove is to be made a one-way route, to provide more space for pedestrians.
Stevenson Square and the section of Ducie Street will both become pedestrian and cycle zones seven days per week until further notice, with access for businesses provided between 6am and 10am daily.
Buses that previously used the stops in Stevenson Square will be diverted along Lever Street to Great Ancoats Street and into Oldham Street, with alternative layover facilities provided on Lever Street. Vehicle access to Dale Street will be provided via Great Ancoats Street.
The Ducie Street part-closure is designed to alleviate the build-up of pedestrians waiting at traffic lights and to prevent queueing vehicles from blocking trams and buses on Aytoun Street.
Manchester City Council has already designated a new temporary traffic-free zone to keep people safe on Deansgate and extended the traffic-free hours for an existing pedestrian and cycle zone on Thomas Street, in the Northern Quarter.
At this stage, the council maintains that all measures are temporary, although calls have been made from various groups to consider making some of the measures permanent. Stevenson Square was closed for an evening in June to mark Clean Air Day, and also closes once a month for a market.
Footways have also been widened at a series of busy city centre and district centres, making more room for social distancing as people walk safely between major transport hubs and local businesses..
Cllr Angeliki Stogia, executive member for the environment, planning and transport, said: “Making more space for people to get around the city centre safely is absolutely crucial at this time and this is another step towards rebuilding the city in a way that is fit to respond to a number of challenges.
“Action we take now to create traffic-free zones at Stevenson Square and close to Piccadilly station will help people have more confidence that they will be able to socially distance appropriately on their return to the city centre, as well as contributing to reducing air pollution and responding to the climate emergency.”