Shopping centre bosses have given their blessing to a £5 million revamp of Wolverhampton city centre, amid concerns that motorists will struggle to get into one of its main car parks.
Wolverhampton City Council is making some roads one-way and will pedestrianise areas like Princess Street in a bid to make the city centre more attractive for investors.
But the plan will mean traffic will be banned from turning left from Cleveland Street into Garrick Street, where shoppers access the Wulfrun Centre car park, also used by visitors to the Mander Centre.
A bus lane will be installed in Cleveland Street that will make it dangerous for cars to turn left across it, the council has said.
Councillor Malcolm Gwinnett has raised concerns that it will leave drivers having to go out on to the main ring road to access the car park from either Snow Hill or St George’s Parade.
He said: “This has been ill thought out. There have been a lot of changes for buses but no-one is thinking about car-borne shoppers. It’s pushing people out of the city who would spend money.”
Despite the concerns, the managers of the Mander and Wulfrun Centres have backed the council in the plans. Nicholas Pitt, director of the Mander Centre, said: “There was a lot of consultation and I am pleased to see the investment. I am confident we will see long term gains.”
Steve Carlin, director of retail at LCP Properties, owners of the Wulfrun Centre, said: “It’s been well thought out and we support the proposals. There will be changes for the Wulfrun Centre car park but I believe we will get used to them.
“It will improve circulation for service and general vehicles and moves things along on the ring road.”
The biggest change under the transformation plans will be in Princess Street, which will be pedestrianised from 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Saturday. Lichfield Street and Queen Square, currently used by buses and taxis, would become one-way, as would Victoria Street, but Lichfield Street will also get a cycle lane.
Queen Square will be widened to allow it to be used for outdoor events. Exchange Street, which runs between the Natwest bank and Costa Coffee, would also be pedestrianised.