Traders have hailed the opening of Market Street, in Chorley town centre, as a “runaway success.”
They say takings have increased and more people are visiting shops now they can drive along Market Street and park their cars there.
And Chorley Council has now recommended that it is permanently re-opened to traffic.
Coun Peter Wilson, deputy council leader, said: “We’ve had nothing but hugely positive feedback from traders and visitors to the town alike.
“The re-opening of Market Street meant we could create on-street free parking for half-an-hour, which means people can just pop to the shops or the bank. All the traders without exception have told us it’s been great for business and that there has been an increase in footfall.
“Fears that it would become a ‘rat-run’ with people speeding through Market Street have been totally unfounded and so we are recommending to Lancashire County Council that the re-opening of Market Street now becomes permanent.”
Market Street was re-opened in November last year as a 12-month trial, having previously been closed to traffic between 11am and 4pm.
A traffic survey showed the average speed of vehicles driving along Market Street was less than 10mph and 97 per cent of all vehicles travelled at less than 15mph and a telephone survey of Market Street businesses received positive responses, with florist Easthams Secret Garden saying their takings doubled in the first week.
The news that the road could be re-opened permanently has been welcomed by traders.
Michael Rearden, owner of Bragg bag shop on Market Street, said: “It’s been an absolute boost to this side of the town. It’s a wonderful idea to give free half-hour parking and it’s used to its absolute maximum. When I look out of the window, every car parking space is full, which shows it’s popular with the public.
“Everyone I have spoken to thinks it’s a wonderful idea and it has been met with approval by the traders and the public.”
A spokesman for Easthams Secret Garden said: “We have seen more footfall in the shop. People who want to nip in to pick up an arrangement are finding it’s easy to park their car and nip in, rather than carrying it further to a car park.
“We have seen an increase in takings and people coming in.”
Malcolm Allen, chairman of Chorley Traders’ Alliance and owner of Malcolm’s Musicland, on Chapel Street, said: “It’s excellent news. We campaigned for 10 years and it was one of the first things this administration did when they came into power. It’s been a runaway success. Some of the businesses, within six weeks of opening, were saying the trade had doubled.”
Coun Mark Perks, leader of Chorley Conservatives said: “ I would certainly agree with those traders and members of the public who have noticed it has revitalised the top end of Market Street. All the feedback I have received has been positive, especially on the additional parking.”
Andrew Burrows, Lancashire County Council’s highways manager for Chorley, said the council would now begin to complete the statutory and legal work that will make the experimental traffic order a permanent one.”