THE PARADE is remaining temporarily closed to enable businesses to maximise on outdoor space.
Since last June the road and intersecting side streets have been closed to most vehicles to enable social distancing. Delivery vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists still have access.
And local authorities say they are keeping the layout in place until at least June 21, when government announces the easing of all restrictions.
Council bosses say as more of the town’s business reopen over the coming weeks they can make the most of the extra space while residents and visitors can also continue to social distance.
Warwickshire County Council (WCC) says it will use this time to consider the long-term future of road space within the town.
WCC transport spokesman coun Jeff Clarke said: “The temporary road layouts have been an essential piece of work to enable the safer reopening of the town centre and still have a very important role to play as more businesses reopen in coming weeks.
“The road layout measures have generated a wide range of comments from residents, businesses and other stakeholders and have given us a lot of learning to take forward. In time, there will be a consultation around future planning for the town centre and the responses we have received will be invaluable in developing that.”
Leamington Chamber of Trade welcomed the move to allow for social distancing and support businesses.
Chair Hayley Key said: “We hope as shops and hospitality open that users will feel safe to come back to our town centre. We also hope that the road closures will allow restaurants to be able to make the most of any outside space that can be offered to them. We look forward to working with our council partners as we look at ways to enhance and improve the town centre through different ideas and welcome the chance for business to be fully consulted on any further changes.”
And Leamington BID executive director Stephanie Kerr said consultation is needed to decide on future access.
She added: “This additional certainty is helpful as we carefully navigate re-opening our town centre. While the temporary closure has provided valuable social distancing space and learning, a variety of unresolved challenges remain so we welcome the consultative approach being proposed in future.
“Now our focus is on supporting local businesses to safely open and we are grateful for the continued community support. This includes supporting hospitality businesses located both inside and outside of the Parade closure to safely make use of public realm areas, as they trade outdoors until at least May 17.”
Warwick District Council will have street marshals on hand to advise the public when shops, salons and hospitality businesses reopen over the coming weeks.
Business spokesman Coun Richard Hales said: “The revitalisation of our town centres and rebuilding the confidence of shoppers and visitors are central to our recovery plans. With a number of store closures and the difficulties faced across the retail sector, we will take a careful look at the issues around balancing the needs of businesses, pedestrians, cars-users, cyclists and public transport, taking on board the important lessons learned during this time.”