How do residents and businesses in St Andrews feel about pedestrianising a section of Market Street?
That’s the question one of the town’s councillors, Brian Thomson, is asking.
A proposal to pedestrianise the section of the street between Bell Street and the fountain area was debated almost a decade ago.
Concerns were expressed at the time about the possible implications the move could have on traders.
Another issue that arose from the debates was about parking.
Then, in 2009, councillor Robin Waterston said that the banning of cars from the street could not happen without causing severe damage to shopkeepers, unless edge of town parking and transport to and from the town centre became available.
A feasibility study on constructing a one-storey car park was prepared in 2007, which came up with an estimated cost of £8.1 million.
Now, Councillor Thomson is asking residents of the town for their feelings on the possible pedestrianisation of a section of Market Street.
He said: “An awful lot of local people have told me that they’d like to see Market Street pedestrianised. However, that’s purely anecdotal, and I know that there will be people, who would be against it, particularly some of the local businesses.
“My view is that the town centre should be more pedestrian friendly.
“There are far more pedestrians in the streets than motor vehicles, but the vast majority of the space is taken up by motor vehicles.
“The obvious area to predestrianise would be Market Street, from the Church Street/Greyfriars Garden junction to the fountain area.
“There are clearly issues that would have to be addressed, particularly the loss of parking spaces.
“Would the loss of around 60 parking spaces be acceptable, or would alternative spaces have to be provided?
“If the latter, who would come up with around £9.5m for a multi-storey car park, or is there another solution?
“Parking is just one of the issues and that’s why I’m keen to hear the views of residents and businesses.
“I’d stress that this is not a firm proposal at this stage – I’m just responding to views that have already been expressed to me, and I’m keen to find out what wider views are before asking Fife Council transportation officers if it’s something that could be examined in greater detail.”
Callum McLeod, chair of the town’s community council, said that while the group did not have a view on the possible pedestrianisation of the street, he believeb that the issue should be reviewed.
He told the Citizen: “The community council does not at the moment have a particular view on the pedestrianisation of Market Street – we are aware that there are arguments for and against such an idea.
“However, as chairman, I am sure that members would agree that it is something that should be reviewed from time to time.
“Habits, circumstances, attitudes and expectations change over time. The current economic climate, attitudes to the effects of exhaust fumes and increasing interest in cycling might indicate that it is again time to explore all options for Market Street.
“For example, the Community Council Planning Committee is currently of the view that parking spaces should be slanting rather than at right angles to the kerb.”
St Andrews Merchants’ Association said that any plans for changes to the town centre layout would need to be considered very carefully by all stakeholders.
A project to upgrade Market Street was carried out in 2010, with the road narrowed, some parking removed, and the paths widened.
If you would like to email Councillor Thomson with your views about pedestrianising Market Street, he can be contacted on email@example.com.