To paraphrase a quote from Mark Twain, the reports of Clifton Village’s death are greatly exaggerated.
In June 2021, a coffin was carried through the streets in protest against plans to pedestrianize Princess Victoria Street, with many people upset about a lack of consultation.
A section of the road was then closed in August 2021, with Bristol City Council now deciding that the scheme has been such a success that it will be made permanent.
Tables and chairs on the road for outdoor eating and drinking are now a familiar sight on the street, with data showing that more people have been walking and cycling to visit, and that fewer cars are traveling through Clifton Village as a whole.
With the scheme being made permanent, designs will be drawn up to keep the road closure, retain space for businesses to trade outside and improve the “public realm”.
Not everybody is happy, however, with some traders saying that pedestrianization may be beneficial for the road’s cafes and other hospitality businesses, but it is bad for business for others.
“It’s still a very sore subject in Clifton,” Richard Davis of DBM Wines on Princess Victoria Street told Bristol World.
“Saturdays are starting to recover but in the week this place is a ghost town.”
Grey-Harris & Co director Thomas Ward added: “Talking to other businesses it has mostly been very negative for other traders and only seems of benefit to hospitality businesses.
“It seems one of those changes that has cost a lot of money and upset a lot of people and to be honest has had no real purpose.”
Read more: Clifton Village traders unite to pan pedestrianization plans
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees said that over the past year, Princess Victoria Street “has been buzzing”.
He said: “We’ve studied the traffic data carefully, alongside the feedback to our community engagement and consultations, and are confident these measures will help Princess Victoria Street to attract more visitors, reduce pollution and have a positive impact on the area as a whole.
“It will mean we can replace the temporary measures with smarter long-term infrastructure that will improve the street scene for everyone.”
Cabinet member for transport, Don Alexander, added: “I’m delighted the pedestrian zone will be made permanent, meaning there is more space for people to travel actively and enjoy outdoor hospitality.”
Main photo: Martin Booth
Listen to anti-pedestrianisation campaigner JP Van Hoover, the owner of About Face on Princess Victoria Street, in episode 26 of the Bristol24/7 podcast from November 2021: